Trial Court Rules Against Utica Fire Chief’s Disability Claim

For a relatively small city, the City of Utica, New York has seen more than it’s fair share of fire law headlines in recent years. The Utica Fire Department is once again in the headlines with word that New York State Supreme Court Judge Patrick McRae has ruled against Fire Chief Russell Brooks, who is seeking 9-11 related disability benefits for his leukemia.

Chief Brooks sued the City and Mayor Robert Palmieri in 2017 for denying his claim that his chronic lymphocytic leukemia was brought on by his work at the World Trade Center in 2001. He has been out on leave since May, 2017. According to Chief Brooks, the World Trade Center Health Program determined that his condition was 9-11 related, and agreed to assume responsibility for the costs.

None the less, Judge McRae concluded that the city was within its rights in denying Chief Brooks’ claims. A copy of the decision is not available. Chief Brooks has already stated he will be appealing the decision. More on the story.

Some earlier headlines:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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