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An appeals court in Illinois on Wednesday granted a disability award to a firefighter who suffered a stroke but may have had pre-existing conditions.
A City of East Peoria for more than 20 years, Charles Melton in 2020 applied for an occupational disease disability pension, alleging a “work-related stroke brought on by exposure as a firefighter” and that he was “precluded from performing normal work activity by statute and medical recommendations,” according to City of East Peoria v. Melton, filed in Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District.
The city had three doctors examine Mr. Melton and provide testimony. Their records state that Mr. Melton had pre-existing conditions that may have contributed to his stroke. Court records document 17 comorbidities, some of which preclude his work as a firefighter. Yet some of his ailments were attributed to firefighting, which led the state Workers Compensation Board to rule in his favor in 2021. On appeal, a trial court affirmed.
The appeals court also affirmed, writing that the record contains “sufficient evidence” that a stroke may have been caused by his work as a firefighter. It also quoted one of the doctor’s opinions: “It is my medical opinion that one cannot discount the cumulative effects of active duty of firefighting in regards to his stroke. Though the firefighter did have other risk factors, the occupational stressors of active firefighting (are) well-documented and (their) effects on the cardiovascular system.”