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Michael Palumbo's parents, firefighters' families speak out at Beachwood council meeting

Posted at 11:06 PM, May 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-07 09:37:57-04

BEACHWOOD, Ohio — "He died for this city. He died! And you don't want to help his family out?" said Michael Palumbo, Sr. during Monday night's Beachwood's city council meeting.

The father of fallen firefighter Michael Palumbo, firefighters and their families, and a state lawmaker spoke out at the meeting after our exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation revealed the city is fighting giving benefits to Michael Palumbo's family under the Michael Palumbo Act.

Read our report: Palumbo family denied cancer benefits promised under Palumbo Act

"How do you sleep at night?" said Palumbo, Sr. "I hope this burns something in your brains that my son died for this city and you're treating him like this."

After Michael Palumbo, Jr. shared his story about his battle with brain cancer with 5 On Your Side Investigators in Feb. 2016, Ohio lawmakers took action. Legislation, long mired in bureaucracy, was passed to give worker's compensation benefits to firefighters with cancer, since scientific evidence shows firefighters face an increased risk of the deadly disease, was signed into law Jan. 4, 2017.

Ohio lawmakers even renamed the law the Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act.

After Palumbo lost his battle with brain cancer in May 2017, his wife, Chrissy, asked for benefits under the act for her and their five children.

Beachwood, where Palumbo fought fires for 25 years, denied her claim. Willowick, his hometown, where he worked part-time, has also continued to fight her claims.

RELATED: Beachwood City Council President 'deeply concerned' about benefits denied Palumbo's family

She said she was disappointed the cities her husband spent decades protecting have not been there for her.

"I would hope they realize that the Michael Palumbo Act should apply to Michael Palumbo," she said.

"I can't believe the city is not backing him (and his family) up," said Andy Simon, a former part-time Beachwood firefighter, during Monday's meeting. Simon was diagnosed with brain cancer about a month after Palumbo. For years, Palumbo was his training officer.

"It's despicable, deplorable and I'm ashamed, actually," said Simon.

"I personally would be ashamed if I didn't stand behind this family," said Cindy Culligan during the meeting. Her husband, Seamus, a Willoughby firefighter, has also battled brain cancer.

She begged Beachwood's leaders to help Palumbo's family. "Brain cancer's rough," she said. "Please stand behind them. Just do it. Please," said Culligan.

"What Mrs. Palumbo is asking for is not the sun, the moon or the stars," said OH Sen. Kenny Yuko (District 25 - D), who helped pass the Palumbo Act. "She wants help raising her family."

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