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Minneapolis fireman fights insurance rules, too

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

In his 25 years on the Minneapolis Fire Department, Thomas Davison fought a series of debilitating health conditions along with the fires he helped put out. He also had to fight the department to obtain health benefits.

Davison and his wife both work for the department. Rather than incur additional costs for themselves and the department, they elected to carry a family health insurance plan. Davison’s wife was listed on the policy as the employee; Davison was a dependent.

Davison injured his back twice on the job and had to have several operations. When he suffered a heart attack in 2001, he applied for and received temporary disability benefits.

The city informed Davison in early 2002 that his leave under the FMLA had expired in December 2001. The city gave Davison the option of staying on medical layoff through Dec. 17, 2004, retiring or returning to work.

In 2003, Davison underwent another back surgery. During the procedure, doctors discovered cancer. Davison had surgery for the cancer and applied for a permanent-disability pension and continued health benefits until he reached age 65.

Had Davison been the insured employee on his policy, he would have automatically been entitled to the health benefits. But because his wife was the insured employee, the city claimed he was not eligible.

He sued. The city won a district court trial, but on appeal the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that Davison was entitled to the health benefits.

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