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McAllan v. FDNY (Challenging policy barring public employees from speaking to press)

In this case the NYCLU challenged certain New York City Fire Department Emergency Medical Services policies that limit the ability of EMS employees to make statements to the press or the public about nonconfidential matters relating to the EMS. In 1981, the EMS issued Executive Order 29, which prohibited its employees from having contact with the media without prior authorization.

The city revoked the executive order in 1989 after it was challenged by Richard McAllan, a longtime EMS employee, as violating the First Amendment. Mr. McAllan filed a new complaint in 2001 in reaction to similar EMS provisions, and further alleged that the defendants used such provisions in a broader effort to suppress EMS employee criticism of substantial misconduct on the part of the FDNY. Shortly after the NYCLU entered the case in June 2002, the EMS revoked the policies but refused to enter into a decree barring reinstatement of the policies. Because similar policies have surfaced time and again over the last twenty years, the NYCLU then chose to proceed with litigation to obtain a declaratory judgment. The city moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the dispute was mooted by the revocation of the policies and obtained a stay of discovery pending resolution of that motion.

On Sept. 12, 2003, Southern District Judge Barbara Jones issued an opinion and order denying the city’s motion and lifting the discovery stay. The city then agreed to an order barring the Fire Department from reinstating any policy barring employees from making statements to the press or public about nonconfidential matters of public interest. The federal court entered the order in November 2003. 

S.D.N.Y., Index No. 01 Civ. 5281 (BSJ) (direct)

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