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Cancer Stricken Cop Fighting Manhattan Beach for Work Comp Payments

In recent workers' compensation defense news, the city of Manhattan Beach, California, is currently involved in a controversial dispute with a city police officer over work comp payments. The issue? Whether the police officer - who is in the midst of a four-year fight with cancer - was struck with the potentially fatal disease while on the job.

Officer Mark Vasquez, 36, was hired by the Manhattan Beach Police Department in 2005, and eventually diagnosed with cancer two years later. Since that time (and after undergoing surgery), he has been able to return to work periodically, often while in-between treatments.

Currently, Officer Vasquez is on medical leave from the police department and is not receiving work comp payments because the city of Manhattan Beach is choosing to dispute his claim that he was diagnosed with cancer while working as a police officer.

Under California law, cancer is recognized as a workplace injury for both firefighters and police officers. Accordingly, unless the city of Manhattan Beach can eventually prove that Officer Vasquez was not stricken with cancer while on the job, it could be liable for his past and future medical bills, as well as potential benefits to his family.

"[The city of Manhattan Beach] would have to disprove it, if not then the person who was exposed would win the case," said David Schwartz, an attorney and former head of the California Applicants' Attorneys Association. "It could be a lot of money."

The refusal to make work comp payments to Officer Vasquez is causing a stir in the Manhattan Beach community, particularly among his fellow law enforcement officials.

"Sadly, it appears the strategy being used by the city's attorney is to delay, delay and delay in the hopes of outlasting the cancer itself," said Office Tim Madgaleno of the Manhattan Beach Police Officers Association at a past meeting of the City Council."

The city attorney's office, however, is quick to refute this assertion.

"The city is not trying to delay, but there's a considerable amount of city money involved in this case, and we are trying to do our due diligence to make sure it doesn't get paid unless it should get paid under the statute," said City Attorney Robert Wadden.

Interestingly enough, a hearing on this matter was held before the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board just yesterday.

Stay tuned for further developments in this story and other areas of workers' compensation defense law ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

Police Officer Battling For City to Pay Medical Bills (The Beach Reporter)

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