Fireman Says Facebook Post Got Him Fired
BALTIMORE (CN) - A volunteer fireman sued a Maryland county, claiming it fired him illegally for posting a Facebook comment suggesting that someone kill a person with a "scary" black liberal, to get them outlawed.
Mark Grutzmacher sued Howard County and its fire chief, in a First Amendment claim in Federal Court.
Grutzmacher claims he was an 18-year veteran of the volunteer fire department, which does not pay money but does pay "valuable benefits," including an annual state tax credit of $3,500 and a pension after 25 years.
Grutzmacher claims he was fired for posting a Facebook comment on a friend's Facebook page. The friend, Kevin Buker, was a battalion fire chief for Howard County, Grutzmacher says. Buker is not a party to the complaint.
Here's what happened, Grutzmacher says in the lawsuit. All the ellipses and brackets are as in the complaint.
"On Sunday, January 20, 2013, Mr. Buker 'posted' a satirical comment concerning assault weapons legislation that was pending in several jurisdictions in the United States on his Facebook page. The post could only be viewed by Mr. Buker's Facebook 'friends,' including Mr. Grutzmacher, not members of the general public. Specifically, Mr. Buker stated in his post, 'My aide had an outstanding idea .... Let's kill someone with a liberal ... then maybe we can get them outlawed too! Think of the satisfaction of beating a liberal with another liberal ... it's almost poetic. ...'
"Mr. Grutzmacher, responded to the post stating, 'But ... was it an '[assault] liberal'? Gotta pick a fat one, those are the 'high capacity' ones. Oh pick a black one, those are more 'scary.' Sorry had to perfect on a [sic] cool idea!'"
The county fired him on March 6, Grutzmacher says.
He demands reinstatement, with benefits, an injunction, damages for mental anguish and distress, and attorney's fees and costs.
He is represented by Edward Robson, with Robson & Robson, of Conshohocken, Pa.