State News : Texas

NWCDN is a network of law firms dedicated to protecting employers in workers’ compensation claims.

NWCDN Members regularly post articles and summary judgements in workers’ compensations law in your state.  

Select a state from the dropdown menu below to scroll through the state specific archives for updates and opinions on various workers’ compensation laws in your state.

Contact information for NWCDN members is also located on the state specific links in the event you have additional questions or your company is seeking a workers’ compensation lawyer in your state.




Appeals Court Addresses Issues of First Impression Concerning Presumption in Favor of Firefighters under Tex. Gov’t Code § 607.055


In an opinion filed March 7, 2024, the 11th Court of Appeals (Eastland) reversed the trial court’s summary judgment that Michael Belew developed pancreatic cancer during his employment as a firefighter and emergency medical technician with the City of Stephenville. Mr. Belew passed away in 2014.
Following a contested case hearing, the hearing officer relied upon Appeals Panel Decision Nos. 150098-s and 151156 in determining that the statutory presumption created by Section 607.055 (as it existed prior to its amendment effective June 10, 2019) applied to the pancreatic cancer developed by Mr. Belew, thereby relieving Appellees of the burden to prove causation, i.e. that Mr. Belew’s cancer arose out of the course and scope of his employment as a firefighter. The Appeals Panel adopted the hearing officer’s decision without issuing a written decision.
The Eastland Court, however, determined that, in the decisions listed above, the Appeals Panel “simply misapplied the effect of the statutory presumption.”
Section 607.055 that is applicable to this case provides:

   (a)  A firefighter or emergency medical technician who suffers from cancer resulting in death or total or partial disability is presumed to have developed the cancer during the course and scope of employment as a firefighter or emergency medical technician if:

   (1)  the firefighter or emergency medical technician:
     (A) regularly responded on the scene to calls involving fires or firefighting; or
     (B) regularly responded to an event involving the documented release of radiation or a known or suspected carcinogen while the person was employed as a firefighter or emergency medical technician; and

   (2)  The cancer is known to be associated with fire fighting or exposure to heat, smoke, radiation, or a known or suspected carcinogen, as described by Subsection (b). 

   (b)  This section applies only to a type of cancer that may be caused by exposure to heat, smoke, radiation, or a known or suspected carcinogen as described by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The IARC conducts critical reviews and evaluations on the carcinogenicity of a wide range of human exposures and publishes the results of its evaluations in monographs. The 98th Monograph evaluated the occupational cancer hazards of painting, firefighting, and shift work. The authors of the monograph found limited evidence of the development of cancer as it relates to exposure as a firefighter; however, after considering a variety of studies, as well as large meta-analyses, the authors concluded that the only cancers statistically significant for cancer risks in firefighters were testicular, prostatic, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Pancreatic cancer is not a type of cancer that is connected to or may be caused by firefighting.
The Court agreed with the City that Mr. Belew’s pancreatic cancer does not meet the requirements of section 607.055 and therefore the presumption of causation does not apply. The court reversed the trial court’s judgment that Mr. Belew sustained a compensable injury and rendered judgment in favor of the City.

Copyright 2024, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP