City of Bridgeport asks judge to dismiss firefighter medical marijuana suit

February 21, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — City officials on Thursday urged a judge to throw out the lawsuit of a local man who claims he is being prevented from becoming a firefighter because he has a medical marijuana card.

Associate City Attorney John Bohannon Jr. filed a motion in Superior Court seeking to dismiss the suit brought by James Bulerin III, contending that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case.

Judge Elizabeth Stewart is scheduled to hear arguments on the motion Monday morning.

Bulerin’s lawyer, Thomas Bucci, contends that the city is violating state law regarding medical marijuana use by rejecting Bulerin’s application to become a city firefighter.

On May 31, 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state in the country to approve medical marijuana when Gov. Dannell Malloy signed HB 5389, “An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana,” of PUMA.

Under the state law, “No employer may refuse to hire a person or may discharge, penalize [,] or threaten an employee solely on the basis of such person’s or employee’s status as a qualifying patient or primary caregiver. Nothing in this subdivision shall restrict an employer’s ability to prohibit the use of intoxicating substances during work hours or restrict an employer’s ability to discipline an employee for being under the influence of intoxicating substances during work hours.”

According to the city’s motion, on Jan. 23, City Personnel Director David Dunn removed Bulerin’s name from the firefighter eligibility list after Bulerin tested positive for marijuana. Bulerin then produced a medical marijuana card.

The city contends that the card cautions against the performance of functions essential to the performance of firefighting duties.

The fact that Bulerin failed to disclose the fact that he was taking medical marijuana during the application process for being a firefighter “prompted concerns regarding plaintiff’s veracity,” the motion states.

Bulerin has filed an appeal with the Civil Service Commission of Dunn’s decision but it’s not scheduled to be heard by the commission until March 12 when Bucci claims it will be too late for Bulerin to get into the current class at the Connecticut Fire Academy.