Date 9.19.2011

Firm Fights for Firefighter’s Rights

Posted By: Coker Law

District Court of Appeal Finds in Favor of Disabled Retired Firefighter

“Jake Schickel was recommended to me by a number of other firefighters. I have recommended him to several others. I would have been lost without his help and feel very fortunate that he and Jim Daniel supported me throughout a long and frustrating process.” …..“Rusty” Butler

Firm Partner Jim Daniel recently obtained a favorable ruling from the First District Court of Appeal (DCA) on behalf of retired Jacksonville firefighter Graymond “Rusty” Butler. He was awarded permanent total disability benefits previously denied him by his former employer, the City of Jacksonville. “After faithfully serving the citizens of Jacksonville and putting his life in danger for over three decades, Rusty will now finally get the compensation he deserves,” comments Jim.

Rusty first brought his case to Jake Schickel, who is board certified in Workers’ Compensation and Civil Trial Law. Health issues had forced Rusty into early retirement. Like so many of his fellow firefighters and police officers, Rusty was diagnosed with hypertension with resulting peripheral vascular disease. “It’s the stress of the job that causes it,” explains Rusty. “I know a lot of people I served with are having trouble getting their benefits.”

This is exactly what brought the former firefighter to Jake Schickel. Jake’s investigation revealed that while his medical expenses had been paid, Rusty had not received all the benefits owed him, despite meeting the guidelines for total disability. Jake was certain that his client’s case was fully supported by the Florida Statute known as the “Heart Lung Bill” and began a long fight to obtain rightful compensation. This law stipulates that firefighters and police officers are entitled to a presumption that hypertension or heart disease, and any complications resulting from these conditions, are causally related to their employment.

Despite this statute and without presenting any evidence disproving this causal relationship, the city vigorously contested Rusty’s claim, even sending him to an Orlando doctor who testified against him. After Judge William Dane ruled in favor of the city and denied benefits, Jim Daniel, a board-certified specialist in Appellate Law, filed the appeal that reversed that decision.

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