On January 4, Governor Kasich signed into law the “Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act”. This new law was specifically passed for the benefit of Ohio’s fire fighters, whether voluntary or full time, who contract cancer. The bill creates a rebuttable presumption that their cancer was caused by their injurious exposure to chemical toxins while in the course and scope of their employment, thereby rendering firefighters eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
The presumption of the firefighter’s work related cancer can be rebutted by the employer if: 1) the alleged cancer preexisted before the firefighter became a member of the fire department; 2) the cancer was caused by exposure to tobacco products that presented a significant factor in the cause or progression of the disease; 3) the firefighter was not exposed to an agent as classified by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) as a group 1 or 2a carcinogens; or 4) the firefighter is 70 years of age or older.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FIREFIGHTERS?
The passage of this law is a giant step forward for the protection of firefighters who will no longer be required at great expense and effort to prove by a preponderance of the evidence, that their cancer was caused by their exposure to carcinogenic toxins while working. It is encouraging to note that Ohio’s General Assembly has at long last recognized that firefighters have a greater risk of contracting certain occupational cancers than the larger working population. There are many other jobs that also present a greater risk to its workers of contracting an occupational cancer. We would hope that the General Assembly will see fit someday to expand the “Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act” to include these other occupations that pose a similar heightened risk to its workers.
WHAT DO OTHER FIREFIGHTERS THINK?
An acquaintance of Garson Johnson Attorneys and Lanny Solomon, Bill Mastroianni, was quoted in the News Harold Article.
“An untold amount of time and hard work has gone into making this law a reality,” said Lt. Bill Mastroianni of Euclid Fire Department. “It is appropriate that Gov. Kasich is giving this law the attention it deserves by signing it surrounded by the firefighters that it will help protect."
Are you a firefighter that needs help with workers' compensation issues? Call our experienced attorneys to learn how we can help you at (216) 696-9330.