City Surprised by TML Lawsuit Against Firefighter
Wednesday, February 6, 2019 | 932 | 0 | 8 min read
City officials in Mission, Texas, have scheduled a special meeting Wednesday after they say they were blindsided by aggressive legal action taken by the Texas Municipal League over a firefighter's workers' compensation cancer benefits.
It's another skirmish in the battle over Texas' cancer presumption law, which has pitted fire workers against their own municipal employers and the cities' insurers. Legislation is expected to be introduced this year that would expand the number of cancers that are compensable under the law.
Firefighters and claimants' attorneys have argued that the law is ambiguously worded, and municipal insurers have used it to successfully oppose the majority of firefighter cancer claims.
Firefighter Homer Salinas, of Mission, is a rare exception. After the city's insurer, the Texas Municipal League, initially denied his kidney cancer claim, Salinas won on appeal and was awarded $50,000 in benefits, according to local news reports.
As they have in other firefighter claims, the municipal league's risk pool filed suit last month against Salinas, elevating the dispute to the district court level, a move that surprised city officials.
“I have always been a pro-employee person and my position has always been that we need to back up Homer,” Mayor Armando O’Caña said in a news release to the local newspaper. “I don’t understand how TMLIRP could file this lawsuit and make us a joint party, but we will continue to stand by our firefighter.”
The Texas State Association of Fire Fighters called the lawsuit “a cynical, gutless attack on Homer.”