The City of Glendale has reversed an earlier decision to deny a workers compensation claim to one of its firefighters with cancer that had ignited a confrontation between the city and Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale.
Kevin Thompson was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that has been found to be more prevalent among firefighters and considered an occupational cancer under state law.
An independent medical evaluation conducted by an outside third-party hired by the city determined there was no way to connect Thompson’s cancer diagnosis to his time as a firefighter.
In a tweet sent out late Thursday afternoon, Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers stated that the city could override the third-party’s ruling.
— Mayor Jerry Weiers (@MayorWeiers) September 5, 2019
“I am pleased to announce that the claims adjuster has agreed to reverse the original denial,” Weiers statement says.
Weiers also said that the city believed it could not override the decision, but were told by the Industrial Commission of Arizona late last week that it could, which prompted the city to change Thompson’s claim status.
“It’s like having the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders,” Thompson said to the Arizona Mirror about the decision but added that “there’s still firefighters with cancers still being denied their claims of cancer under the law.”
There are at least nine cases in Arizona of firefighter claims being denied by local municipalities. The issue has even prompted the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to send two letters about the issue, one to the Arizona League of Cities and Towns and the other to the City of Phoenix.
“I’m so grateful that Glendale has reversed their decision,” Boyer said to the Arizona Mirror. “He’s a great guy.”
Boyer stated that he may be pursuing legislation related to the issues that led to Thompson’s situation in the upcoming session.
“There is a good chance that we may need to revisit legislation next year,” Boyer, who originally sponsored legislation that added cancers like multiple myeloma to a list of covered occupational cancers said. He added that he is interested in legislation to make the Industrial Commission process “more transparent” as well.
Other than focusing on his recovery, Thompson said he plans to help be an advocate for his fellow firefighters diagnosed with similar occupational cancers.
“As long as I have breath in me I’ll keep fighting the fight for my brothers and sisters,” Thompson said.