VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida League of Cities has asked an appellate court judge to uphold a ruling against a former Volusia County firefighter, who has been seeking financial compensation under the law for a career-related cancer diagnosis.
Channel 9 investigative reporter Karla Ray has been looking into denials of these claims since last year and obtained the new argument against the firefighter.
Kathy Weaver received that life-changing diagnosis two years before state law was enacted, providing payments to Florida firefighters who develop certain cancers. It came five years after her 2012 retirement, following three decades of fighting fires and rising through the ranks to become a Volusia County Fire Rescue deputy chief.
“I knew firefighting was a hazardous job, you know there are exposure potentials. The real question was, how bad?” Weaver recalled.”This is how bad it was for me.”
Now, Weaver’s fight to be reimbursed retroactively for costs of her treatments, as well as a single $25,000 payout for the diagnosis, is on appeal after a judge denied her claim.
“It is a very, very modest, small amount of money for somebody who’s diagnosed with occupational cancer, or occupational condition of any kind,” attorney Geoff Bichler said.
Bichler is leading Weaver’s fight against Volusia County, which could pave the way for retroactive payments to firefighters across the state.
Now, one of the largest lobbying powers for local governments, the Florida League of Cities, has filed an amicus brief arguing against Weaver.
Attorneys for the league wrote, in part, “as a practical matter, reversing the trial court’s judgment would thrust Florida’s local governments, the primary employer of firefighters in Florida, into fiscal chaos and uncertainty.” The brief goes on to state that “retroactive application would cause a substantial negative impact never intended by the legislature,” including “virtually limitless and entirely unanticipated demands on their financial resources.”
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