BAYTOWN, Texas – Battalion Chief Patrick Mahoney has battled fires for the city of Baytown for 16 years.
He had to take a few weeks off back in 2016 to battle something else -- thyroid cancer.
“December 2016 I was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery,” said Mahoney.
Being on the job for years and exposed to the conditions that come with fires, Mahoney thought he'd be covered by law through workmen's compensation.
“If a firefighter who is not a tobacco smoker and gets cancer, that's me, it's presumed to be in the line of duty because of the toxins we're exposed to,” said Mahoney.
Mahoney says he applied for workmen’s comp and was denied, but on appeal, he was awarded coverage.
Soon, he found his employer fighting the decision.
“The city was ordered to pay me,” said Mahoney. “They appealed it and went to an appeals panel and I prevailed at the appeals panel as well. The city was again ordered to pay me. They again refused to pay me.”
Now the city of Baytown has sued him and has asked the court to set aside the workmen's compensation decision.
A statement attributed to the city of Baytown’s outside legal counsel says:
"The City of Baytown has paid all of the benefits they were ordered by the state agency to pay to Mr. Mahoney and continue to do so. The state agency charged with addressing these types of disputes has taken inconsistent positions on the types of cancer covered under the applicable law. The City has the right to appeal the state agency’s decision to District Court. The City has chosen to exercise that right and Mr. Mahoney continues to be afforded all benefits he is due, pending the outcome of the City’s appeal."
He claims the city did not pay for his treatment. Instead, he claims he used personal insurance and paid for his own out-of-pocket expenses.
“Since it's a workmen’s comp claim, I shouldn't have to pay anything out of pocket but it's probably several thousand dollars,” said Mahoney. “It's shameful. It doesn't send a good message.”
At Mahoney’s side was Dallas Webb, the president of the Baytown Professional Fire Fighters Association. The union is urging the city of Baytown to drop the lawsuit.
“Under presumption law, this is what rightfully is owed to Patrick and all of our members,” said Webb. “Not only is Patrick not being taken care of right now, but in the future we're not sure if our other firefighters will be taken care of.”