Hazing News

Update on LA firefighter trial: a surprise defense dogs defendant

While the man alleges in lawsuit he was mistreated, the city contends he was leader of the station pranks.

Tennie Pierce of Cerritos sued the city in Los Angeles Superior Court in November 2005, claiming he was mistreated by his colleagues and administrators did nothing to stop the hazing

Among other allegations, he claims other firefighters at the Westchester fire station fed him dog food in 2004.

In seeking to have the case dismissed, attorneys for the city claim Pierce was himself a prankster whose nickname was “Big Dog,” and that he once bragged about shaving the pubic hairs of a firefighter who had been strapped down.

The city also claims Pierce was among the firefighters who poured food over another firefighter while he was tied to a chair in October 2004.

Pierce joined the department in 1987 and has been on unpaid leave since Dec, 28, 2005.

In a hearing held Tuesday, attorneys for Pierce argued the motion should be denied because the city’s court papers were filed too late and that the Aug. 28 hearing does not comply with court rules because it is less than 30 days before the trial’s scheduled start on Sept.24.

Judge Mark V. Mooney denied Pierce’s motions, but told the firefighter’s lawyers they could raise their complaints about the timeliness of the city’s dismissal motion during the Aug.28 hearing.

The city also has filed a separate motion, set to be heard Wednesday, seeking dismissal of Pierce’s allegation within his lawsuit that he was retaliated against by supervisors for complaining about his alleged mistreatment.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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