Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Involving Claremore, Firefighter’s Widow
ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma - Wednesday, a judge dismissed the lawsuit that a Claremore firefighter's widow had filed against the city.
Shelli Farley filed a wrongful death lawsuit after her husband, Captain Jason Farley, died on May 23, 2015, while saving others during flash flooding.
The judge called Farley a hero but said under Oklahoma law the city isn't liable under the government tort claims act.
Shelli, her daughter and members of the firefighters union walked out of the Rogers County courtroom disappointed. Shelli said she expected the ruling, but said it doesn’t feel right.
"It almost feels like they're allowed to get away with murder," she said.
The lawsuit claimed the city knew the storm drain Captain Farley drowned in was dangerous but did not take the proper security precautions.
It also claimed Claremore firefighters were not given the proper training to deal with the swift water rescue situation that fateful night.
“There are some real safety concerns in the city we don't feel have been addressed,” Shelli Farley said.
Her attorney, Steve Hickman said, "The judge did not even acknowledge our arguments, she just ruled that the section of the law that says when you draw workers comp you can't sue the city applies, so our option is to appeal or roll forward."
One thing that could not be disputed was that Captain Farley was a hero.
"The City of Claremore applauds Captain Farley's family for what he did for the city of Claremore and it was up to the judicial system," city attorney Courtney Powell said.
While Shelli Farley is still working with her attorneys to see what else can be done, she said Wednesday's ruling is discouraging.
"It wasn't unexpected, but to hear the judge say it and know that there's really no recourse that we have now is just, it's heartbreaking," she said.
But she's glad they tried and hopes this sets change in motion.
Shelli Farley said her biggest concern in all this is the future safety of the men that her husband served alongside, and hopes something is done to protect them.