9/11 Firefighters Group Says It Was Defamed
CHICAGO (CN) - The Remembrance Rescue Project, a nonprofit that honors firefighters who died in Sept. 11, 2001, rescue efforts, claims in court that two men defamed it by publishing accusations that it runs "make-believe" fire trucks and that its founders profit from its events.
The Remembrance Rescue Project sued Brian Farrell and Billy Goldfeder in Cook County Court.
"The Remembrance Rescue Project is a national campaign for fire education, historical preservation and remembrance for the fallen firefighters involved in the terrorist attacks upon the World Trade Center and New York City on September 11, 2011," the complaint begins.
To this end, it says, it purchased decommissioned fire engines that were involved in rescue efforts at the World Trade Center.
"The Remembrance Rescue Project travels across the county with Rescue Unit 4 and Rescue Unit 5 providing educational sessions for local schools, community events and memorials. The project is operated by local firefighters across the country that volunteer their time to facilitate events and transport Rescue Unit 4 and Rescue Unit 5 from state-to-state, town-to-town," the group says in the lawsuit.
It claims that all donations are used to restore and operate the rescue units, and that nobody involved in the project has ever profited from it.
"Unbelievably and unfortunately, there exist individuals who have set on a course to discredit and ultimately destroy the efforts of the volunteer founders and local operators of the Remembrance Rescue Project in educating, honoring and remembering," the project says in the complaint.
Defendant Farrell, an attorney, allegedly made defamatory comments about the organization, claiming that its founders profit from it and that the rescue units are "make-believe trucks whose two purposes are to fulfill the 'fire-buff' interest of their founder and provide financial benefit to the operators of the project."
The project says Farrell spoke with author and blogger Goldfeder, who published the remarks to local fire departments.
"At all times mentioned herein, the defendant, Brian Farrell, Esq., knew or should have known that the absolute most defamatory statement that a declarant can state about a not-for-profit charitable organization is that they profit from their endeavors," the complaint states.
Goldfeder allegedly sent Farrell's comments "to local fire departments who were prospective recipients of Rescue Unit 4 and Rescue Unit 5, and who were due to host Remembrance Rescue Project events, including publishing communications dated May 22, 2014 to agents and employees of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
"At all times material hereto, the defendant Billy Goldfeder knew or should have known of the sensitive nature of his publications, because ostensibly he was publishing said communications in the name and memory of those who lost their lives in the rescue efforts of September 11, 2011," according to the complaint.
The blogger also falsely told local departments that the project has not donated money to support firefighters or their families, according to the complaint.
The Remembrance Rescue Project seeks damages for libel.
It is represented by Donald Angelini, Jr.