Judge upholds jury decision granting $625K to NHP firefighters in lawsuit against department

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Michael Dolan Sr., left, and Michael Dolan Jr. were awarded $625,000 in a federal lawsuit against the New Hyde Park Fire Department. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

A judge upheld a jury’s decision that awarded $625,000 in damages to two New Hyde Park firefighters in a federal lawsuit after the defendants, including the New Hyde Park Fire Department, attempted to overturn the verdict.

The fire department argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s findings.

Judge Joseph Bianco said in a post trial motion there was more than sufficient evidence in favor of the firefighters, Michael Dolan Sr. and Michael Dolan Jr.

In March, the court found the fire department responsible for malicious prosecution and abuse of process.

The ruling came after a five-year dispute; the Dolans filed the case in October 2013, following a wrongful arrest for stealing smoke detectors from their firehouse in 2012.

The Nassau County Firefighters Museum donated the smoke detectors to be installed for free in senior citizens’ homes, but Michael Dolan Sr., then a fire commissioner, had reservations about the program and removed the smoke detectors for safety concerns, Rick Ostrove, the Dolans’ attorney, previously told Blank Slate Media.

The Dolans were arrested on felony grand larceny charges for taking what district officials said were 65 smoke detectors worth $50 each. During trial, witnesses said there were only 36 smoke detectors in question and worth only $10 each.

Bianco cited then Commissioner Richard Stein “intentionally providing false information to the police regarding the value of the detectors,” as evidence that the department acted maliciously to have the Dolans charged with a felony and automatically expelled from the department.

Requests to reach the New Hyde Park Fire Department were unavailing.

Ostrove said in an email that the Dolan’s are happy with the court’s decision and are overjoyed to have their reputations repaired.

“In a time where many have deep concerns about the way our government functions, this decision is a testament to our judiciary’s ability to provide justice,” Ostrove said. 

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