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Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit against Sparks firefighter (video)

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Washoe County Second Judicial District Court Judge Barry Breslow on Wednesday denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against a Sparks firefighter accused of assaulting an older woman.

The firefighter, Timothy Egan, in December, was caught on video in a skirmish with 84-year-old Maureen Hvegholm. The video went viral and made international headlines.

Hvegholm sued Egan for damages she said she suffered as a result of Egan dropping her on her face on concrete after she was feeding cats in an alleyway.

Egan and the City of Sparks, through attorney Alex Velto, sought to have the lawsuit dismissed. He further suggested that Breslow make a decision Wednesday on a motion for summary judgment. Breslow declined.

“I’m not dismissing the case. That is not the remedy that the court is honestly considering,” Breslow said.

Hvegholm, through attorney Luke Busby, also wants Egan sued as an individual and not with Sparks footing Egan’s legal bill.

Velto argued Sparks was a party to the case – because, he alleged, Sparks firefighters were warned about threats Hvegholm made.

“We know that the plaintiff’s conduct was foreseeable, and that this interaction was foreseeable, because the City of Sparks had already sent out emails, alerting … the firefighters that the plaintiff had made a comment saying that she was going to kill firefighters and make harassing comments,” Velto said. “All of this goes to show that the City of Sparks should be a defendant.”

Breslow did not decide on that part of the case but encouraged both parties to proceed with the litigation. A new case in the Nevada Supreme Court, which was decided last week, suggested Breslow could choose to have Sparks removed as a defendant.

Busby accused Egan of lying to the court in an affidavit.

District Court Judge Barry Breslow. Bob Conrad / This Is Reno.
District Court Judge Barry Breslow. Bob Conrad / This Is Reno.

“There is no reasonable justification for what happened. And that video directly contradicts Egan’s account in his sworn affidavit that was provided to the court,” Busby said.

Breslow said he would not consider specific aspects of the case – yet.

“You see the video one way you’ve talked to your client and got her take on what happened and what transpired. The versions are different,” Breslow said. “[Egan] was at work; he was taking off the garbage [and] was on limited duty because he had broken his leg, fighting fires, protecting his community. He didn’t go out looking for an interaction with somebody, particularly somebody he didn’t know.”

Busby said that version of events is not the complete picture. 

“No matter what a kid or an 84-year-old does to fully grown, able-bodied man, that doesn’t justify throwing them on the ground on their head, like what you see in that video,” he said. “That’s why we think it’s important for the court to take into consideration the fact that the description of what happened was provided by Mr. Egan … his affidavit is verifiably incorrect.” 

Disclosure: Attorney Luke Busby represents This Is Reno in public records cases. He does not provide comment on stories.

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Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.

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