Stuart Adams, Esq., partner at Adams, Ferrone & Ferrone, recently negotiated the reinstatement of a San Luis Obispo firefighter charged with assaulting a man in a bar when off duty. Ryan Mason was reinstated by Chief Charlie Hines in a controversial decision triggered by Mason’s appeal filed regarding his November 2012 termination. The settlement was due in part to the city’s wish to avoid a lengthy and expensive legal battle being brought by Adams, Ferrone & Ferrone.
Chief Hines said rehiring Mason was one of the most difficult decisions he has had to make in his 38 years of fire service. “The process, which could have taken two years, would have cost more city time and money while under a cloud of uncertainty,” Hines said. “It would have been polarizing to the community".
Mason was employed as a fire engineer and paramedic when he got into a fight with another man in the bathroom of a bar in June 2011. Although Mason stated he acted in self-defense, he was charged criminally. In September 2012, a mistrial was declared after eight jurors voted to acquit Mason while four did not. The District Attorney’s Office later decided not to retry the case.
The decision to rehire Mason infuriated City Councilman Dan Carpenter, who said he has lost confidence in city staff to make the right decisions. However, the City Council only has the authority to hire and fire the city manager and the city attorney. “I am completely outraged at this decision,” Carpenter said. “It re-victimizes the person who was obviously beaten to a pulp. … The fact that a firefighter of our city walked away from a scene where the guy was unconscious and bleeding profusely and did not call paramedics rises to a level unbecoming any firefighter.”
The San Luis Obispo city firefighters union subsequently issued a brief statement stating that it supported Hines’ decision. “We understand that this is a complicated personnel issue, and we believe in the process that was used,” said Erik Baskin, union president. Ryan Mason recently wrote in an open letter thanking those who provided support during this challenging time, “[Thank you to] Stuart Adams for protecting my family like it was his own, and proving that he is not just our counsel he is one of us.” Mason is currently happily back working with his brothers. CLICK HERE read more about this matter.