Lawsuit filed over damaged fire truck
Union — A civil suit has been filed in Knox County Superior Court against Stone's Auto Truck Service of Appleton and its owner, David Stone, concerning the repairs to a Union Fire Department tank truck that went up in flames on its way to the garage.
"That lawsuit was not filed by the town of Union," said Union Fire Chief Barry Norris in a phone interview Nov. 16. "That was filed by Maine Municipal Association, the insurer. They're trying to recoup the money they paid out. The town of Union has not hired anyone.
"It's one insurance company versus another insurance company," he added. "We didn't pay anything."
MMA gave the town of Union a check for $135,000 to be used toward the purchase of a new fire truck, Norris said.
The situation is awkward, Norris said, because Stone is the Appleton fire chief, and the two departments have an automatic mutual aid agreement and respond to the same emergency calls together, not only fire calls but also ambulance calls.
According to the court document, in May 2011, Union Fire Department took a 1989 Freightliner Tanker Engine 5 with a rear conversion for firefighting apparatus out of service due to a blown cylinder.
On May 27, 2011, Stone faxed an estimate of repairs to Norris for a complete engine overhaul, according to the lawsuit.
Stone estimated that the suggested repairs would extend the life of the fire truck by 10 years, the court document stated. In November 2011, the truck was put back into service.
After the repairs, Union Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Soule responded to a mutual aid call in Washington, and driving the truck to the scene, he heard abnormal sounds from the engine compartment.
Soule returned the truck to the fire station. The truck had been driven from five to 15 hours since the repair had been completed, the document said.
Stone recommended returning the truck to his garage for inspection, which was done but delayed owing to a family emergency. Stone also failed to warn Soule that driving the truck could be dangerous, according to the court documents.
While on his way to the garage, Soule said he heard a loud noise from the engine. He pulled over, and the truck became engulfed in flames.
After the fire, the truck was inspected and declared a total loss.
The seven counts in the summons consist of one for breach of contract, two for negligence, one for negligent representation, one for breach of implied warranty of merchantability, one for warrant of fitness and one for breach of warranty.
Union Town Manager Jay Feyler was out of town Nov. 16 and could not respond to the suit. Norris said he would ask Feyler when he returns to rewrite the court document to show who the real plaintiff is as it currently states the town of Union having filed the suit.
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401, ext 117, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.