Hero Firefighter Sues NY Daily News for Use of Photo in Sex Scandal Article

Says he has nothing to do with the sex scandal.

In late January, many media outlets were busy reporting on the sex scandal surrounding the Philadelphia Fire Department, among them New York’s Daily News, which ran two articles about it on its website. The trouble is, according to a lawsuit filed in Philadelphia’s federal court, they chose to illustrate the stories with an Associated Press photo of heroic Philadelphia firefighter Francis Cheney II, whose name hasn’t been mentioned in connection with the scandal.


Firefighter and Sept. 11 responder Francis Cheney is seen during a ceremony commemorating the five-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, in Philadelphia, Monday, Sept. 11, 2006. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Cheney has filed a federal lawsuit against the media company over the photo, seen here. The photograph was taken at a 9/11 memorial ceremony in 2006. According to the suit, which was originally filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, the photo appeared below the headline and immediately above the body of both stories, and a caption identified Cheney by name, linking him to a scandal in which there is no indication he is involved.

While all firefighters are heroes just by signing up for the job, Cheney is a special case. In 2012, he rushed into a burning building to find a woman trapped in an upstairs bedroom, choking on smoke and fumes. He removed his own air mask and put it on her, rescuing her from the building. He required hospitalization for smoke inhalation. But he wasn’t done yet: Cheney donated his $500 in overtime pay to the woman and her family. Cheney’s late father was a fire captain.

In the suit, Cheney says he has been “flooded with messages” about the articles “from colleagues at the Philadelphia Fire Department, family, friends and strangers.”

Cheney is suing for invasion of privacy, libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the latter count filed, in part, because the Daily News has not issued a retraction or apology to date. The photo has been removed from the articles.

None of the attorneys involved were immediately available for comment. The Daily News writer, Nicole Hensley, did not return a call seeking comment.

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