Fort Worth has denied pay for Firefighter Captain Keven Teague—who died of pancreatic cancer—and the decision has angered the local firefighters union.
“The Fort Worth Professional Fire Fighters Association-IAFF Local 440 is disappointed to learn of the City of Fort Worth’s denial of the workers’ compensation claim filed on behalf of Capt. Keven Teague,” the union stated in a recent Facebook post.
A press release from the city expressed they are “saddened by the loss of Fire Captain Keven Teague, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer Friday, May 24, 2019.”
The release went on to state that the Fire Department filed a claim on Teague’s behalf on May 16, but Fort Worth followed the “State of Texas mandate to abide by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determinations regarding the types of cancer that have a higher prevalence among firefighters and that are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.”
The medical expert that reviewed the claim “determined that Captain Teague did not have a disease or illness that may be caused by exposure to heat, smoke, radiation, or a known or suspected carcinogen as determined by IARC.”
The firefighter union disagrees.
“Capt. Teague met the statutory presumption as his pancreatic cancer is known to be associated with fire fighting or exposure to heat, smoke, radiation, or a known or suspected carcinogen,” their statement read, “and pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that may be caused by exposure to heat, smoke, radiation, or a known or suspected carcinogen as determined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).”
Fort Worth’s release also cited Senate Bill 2551, which Gov. Greg Abbott has yet to sign, that “clarifies what types of cancers that are presumed to be compensable for first responders.” Pancreatic cancer is not listed in the bill.
“Due to the peer review doctor’s determination that Captain Teague’s risk of pancreatic cancer was not more than the general population and the pending change in legislation, the difficult decision was made to deny Captain Teague’s worker’s compensation claim,” the city wrote.
The union, however, will continue fighting.
“Local 440 will be assisting Deedra Teague with appealing this ruling by the City through the Worker’s[sic] Compensation system,” the union wrote in their post. By the time of publication, Fort Worth Assistant City Manager Susan Alanis was unaware of an appeal being filed.
A GoFundMe page was created to help alleviate Teague’s financial expenses and has been updated since his passing to reflect that it is “being used specifically for his children Rhys (9) and Penelope (6).” The page has raised over $52,000 of its $100,000 goal.
This story is ongoing and will be updated as more information becomes available.