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Palumbo family continues fight for cancer benefits promised under Palumbo Act

Posted at 5:35 PM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 17:52:09-04

CLEVELAND — The family of Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. continued their fight Tuesday for benefits created by the Michael Louis Palumbo Jr Act.

During a hearing at the Ohio Industrial Commission, Brad Elzeer, the attorney representing Palumbo’s family, said, "We're asking that the Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act apply to Michael Louis Palumbo Jr.'s case.”

READ MORE: Palumbo family denied firefighter cancer benefits promised under Palumbo Act

“We believe the evidence is overwhelming, both the medical evidence and the research, which we will go through supporting Michael's claim,” he said.

Palumbo fought fires in Willowick, his hometown, for 27 years before being diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, in 2015.

Scientific studies have linked an increased risk of several cancers, including glioblastoma, to fighting fires.

Before Palumbo passed away in 2017, his wife, Chrissy, filed a request for benefits under the act named for her husband, but the City of Willowick appealed her claim.

chrissy 1.jpg
Chrissy Palumbo

Today, the attorney the city hired, Lisa Gattozzi, cited technicalities regarding how the claim was filed and a lack of evidence Palumbo was exposed to carcinogens.

“We do not believe the burden of proof has been met as far as a claim going against the City of Willowick,” she said.

Elzeer punched back. He said Willowick has failed to provide more than twelve years of records related to the materials and chemicals Palumbo was exposed to while fighting fires.

“Where are those records? Does the city have them?” he said.

Gattozzi said the records are on floppy disks and that it would be too difficult to access the information.

“They don't have the technology,” she said. “They would have to find computers from years and find people from years ago to write programs."

5 On Your Side Investigators wanted to find out just hard it would be to access the information.

So we consulted an engineer and eBay.

In less than ten seconds, we found a floppy disk drive that can be connected to modern computer.

The price tag? About $12.

Rhonda Patsouras, the staff hearing officer at the Palumbo’s hearing, said it will take her about two weeks to determine if the Palumbo family is eligible for benefits under the Palumbo Act.

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