On December 4, 2019 the Third District Appellate Court heard Oral Argument in City of Peoria v. Firefighters’ Pension Fund of the City of Peoria, et al. The firefighter fell during an active fire, struck her head, and alleged she suffered a vestibular dysfunction. The pension board awarded the firefighter a line of duty disability pension. The trial court affirmed and the City appealed. The City argued the pension board erred in awarding the pension because (1) the firefighter refused to undergo reasonable treatment that would have remedied her condition and (2) the firefighter did not prove that she was disabled. The City argued the pension board awarded the firefighter a disability pension based on a condition the firefighter did not claim in her disability application. The pension board argued that 5 doctors concluded the firefighter was psychologically disabled based on a somatic disorder resulting from her response to a fire. However, the pension board conceded the firefighter did not specifically apply for a disability pension based on a somatic disorder. The pension board also argued the firefighter’s refusal to undergo treatment was not an intervening cause of the disability because the record contained conflicts as to whether the firefighter would be able to return to duty if she underwent the additional treatment. The firefighter’s attorney argued that applying for a disability based on a vestibular dysfunction is the equivalent to applying for a disability based on a somatic disorder–particularly where the firefighter believes she does not suffer from a somatic/psychological disorder.
PGM will post the Appellate Court’s written decision once it is issued.