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Appeals court affirms comp benefits for volunteer firefighter


A Maryland appellate court Wednesday upheld a jury award of workers compensation benefits for a retired volunteer firefighter diagnosed with throat cancer.  

The Maryland Appellate Court ruled in favor of former firefighter Charles Shindle, whose cancer claim was initially disallowed by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission but approved following a jury trial.

Mr. Shindle was a volunteer firefighter for about 30 years with the Maugansville Volunteer Fire Department, a division of the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

In 2017, at age 82, he was diagnosed with throat cancer, which he claimed was connected to firefighting.

The commission determined Mr. Shindle’s did not sustain an occupational disease and also found the claim noncompensable because a firefighter cancer presumption didn’t exist at the time of his disablement.

During litigation, the firefighting association challenged an expert’s opinion regarding the connection between the throat cancer and volunteer firefighting duties, arguing Mr. Shindle had other risk factors that could have been contributory.

The appeals court found the medical expert “articulated a logical explanation for his conclusions based on Mr. Shindle’s medical history,” and that the trial court didn’t err in denying a defense motion seeking to prohibit the expert’s testimony.