Law firm cheers workers' comp denial in firefighter case
A Chicago law firm applauded a recent "astounding" appellate court decision to upholding previous rulings denying workers' compensation for a firefighter who suffered a heart attack while at high risk for one due to coronary artery disease.
Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates said the "very, very, very liberal" Illinois Appellate Court surprised the firm at least partly because of what it described as Illinois statutory presumption that firefighters who suffer heart attacks are eligible for compensation. This firm called the decision an example of overcoming such a presumption.
The firefighter in question suffered a heart attack on a 15-degree February day while clearing snow from his firehouse parking spot. He was a heavy smoker who had recently switched to e-cigarettes to try to ease off his two-decade habit of smoking a pack a day. He was also not a healthy eater and often brought food with high levels of cholesterol and salt to work.
These factors and testimony from his treating physician, who had told the firefighter that he had coronary artery disease, led to the series of decisions that denied him compensation. The physician noted that the firefighter’s heart attack could have come at any time, while doing any activity.
While firefighters can be at increased risk for coronary artery disease due to the nature of their work, arbitrators, commissioners and judges throughout the workers’ compensation system found insufficient evidence to uphold the presumption that his heart attack was a compensable claim.
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