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Workers' Compensation

Rhode Island: Split High Court Says Firefighters Do Not Enjoy Conclusive Presumption Regarding Cancer

In a split decision, the Supreme Court of Rhode Island held that R.I. Gen. Laws § 45-19.1-1 does not create a conclusive presumption that a firefighter’s cancer arises out of and in the course of his or her employment. Stressing that no express language within the statute granted either a conclusive or rebuttable presumption that a diagnosis of cancer among firefighters, the majority added that legislative findings as to the susceptibility of firefighters to cancer provided only a “broad-brush policy observations that provided a “backdrop for the remedy.” The majority offered a hypothetical: if a firefighter smoked four packs of cigarettes per day for decades, should he or she be granted a conclusive presumption that subsequent cancer was work-related? No, said the majority.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Lang v. Municipal Employees’ Retirement System, 2017 R.I. LEXIS 144 (Dec. 18, 2019)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 52.07.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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