New Ohio firefighter cancer presumption law.
On January 4, 2017, Ohio enacted into law Substitute Senate Bill 27, also known as the “Michael Louis Palumbo, Jr., Act.” Sub. S.B. 27 makes two major changes to the existing disability retirement law under the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund (“OP&F”) and to the workers’ compensation law for claims filed with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (“BWC”).
Ohio Police & Fire Disability Retirement.
Ohio Revised Code 742.38(D)(3)(b)-(d) now presumes that firefighters who had been assigned to hazardous duty (duty which could result in a serious injury or death) for a period of six (6) years, and who were exposed to Group 1 or 2A carcinogens (according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer – IARC), and who develop cancer within twenty (20) years from their last assignment to hazardous duty, have incurred the cancer while performing their official duties. This presumption may be rebutted, however, by evidence that (i) the firefighter incurred the cancer before becoming a member of the department; (ii) the member’s exposure outside of official duties to tobacco, cigarettes, etc. was probably a significant factor in the cause or progression of the cancer; (iii) the member was not exposed to a Group 1 or 2A carcinogen; or (iv) the member is seventy (70) years of age or older.
Ohio Workers’ Compensation Claims.
Ohio Revised Code 4123.57(X)(1)-(5) provides for the same presumption as set forth in R.C. 742.38(D)(3)(b)-(d). This means firefighters who develop cancer are presumed to have incurred the condition in the course of their employment and may be allowed to participate in the benefits provided by the workers’ compensation laws of Ohio. Generally, these benefits include medical benefits and compensation awards. However, the compensation payable in a BWC claim for firefighters with cancer claims under these provisions are limited to the following types of compensation: temporary total disability (TTD) compensation, permanent total disability (PTD) compensation, and death benefits. See R.C. 4123.57(X)(4).
These new OP&F and BWC laws are expected to become effective and apply to disability retirement applications and workers’ compensation claims ninety (90) days from January 4, 2017. For more information, or to speak with an attorney about your case, please call us at 614-221-1300.