Firefighter connects cancer, work-related carcinogen exposure
Case name: City of Las Vegas v. Lawson, No. 53900 (Nev. 12/30/10).
Ruling: The Nevada Supreme Court held that a firefighter was entitled to compensation because her breast cancer arose out of her employment.
What it means: In Nevada, a worker must provide notice of an occupational disease to her employer within seven days after she has knowledge of the disability and its relationship to her employment.
A firefighter was diagnosed with breast cancer. Eight years later, the firefighter had a recurrence of her cancer, and her doctor told her he believed the cancer was due to her job. The same day, the firefighter submitted a notice of injury to the city. The city denied her claim, asserting that her notice was untimely and she failed to demonstrate that her cancer arose out of an in the course of her employment. The Nevada Supreme Court held that the firefighter was entitled to compensation for her breast cancer.
The court said that the firefighter's testimony and her doctor's testimony showed that she was not aware that her cancer was work-related until the day she filed the notice. Therefore, the notice and her claim were timely.
The firefighter claimed that she was exposed to benzene, which the city conceded was listed as a known carcinogen. A doctor testified to studies which linked benzene and breast cancer. The court found that the firefighter was entitled to the presumption that her cancer arose out of and in the course of her employment. The city attempted to argue that the firefighter's cancer arose from something other than her employment, but the court did not consider the arguments because they were not properly raised in the lower court. The court found that the city failed to rebut the presumption.
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February 10, 2011
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