City of Peoria taking local firefighter to court

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Michael Brooks began working for the Peoria Fire Department in 1991. He began as a firefighter then transitioned into the role of an engineer.

In 2015 Brooks participated in a “collapsed house” training exercise at the City of Peoria Fire Training Academy. His training was cut short after injuring his right knee.

The next year he submitted a line of duty disability application to the Firefighters’ Pension Fund of the City of Peoria.

Brooks said that due to the injury he sustained in 2015 he needed a right knee replacement and that he could no longer perform his duties at the department.

Brooks was examined by three doctors. After examination evidence was presented to the Pension Fund Board and the Appellate Court of Illinois.

They determined Brooks was entitled to a line of duty disability pension.

The city of Peoria asked to intervene and challenge the duty disability claim by the Peoria Fire Pension Board. Peoria City manager, Patrick Urich said the board usually grants the city the ability to intervene, but denied it in this case.

Urich said none of the initial doctor’s reports linked the training incident with Mr. Brooks’ career-ending disability.

Mr. Brooks expanded the scope of his claim to his entire firefighting career, rather than one single training exercise. The Pension Board then sought additional medical reports from these same doctors on two more occasions. Only one of the nine medical reports requested by the Pension Board said that Mr. Brooks career as a firefighter may have contributed to his injury. The Pension Board then granted Mr. Brooks a duty disability pension.

Patrick Urich, Peoria City Manager

Brooks’ attorney, Rob McCoy of Miller, Hall and Triggs, LLC said Brooks’ has done a lot of straining work during the tenure of his career and that his injury was exacerbated by the training exercise.

In our mind it was a clear duty related disability. He had been for many years a firefighter engineer and had gone to many calls where 80 pounds of equiptment put a lot of stress on an individual on their knees.

Rob McCoy, Miller, Hall and Triggs, LLC

Urich said the court’s decision denying the petition and granting the award was in error. Now, the city is appealing.

Police officers and fire fighters who retire with a duty disability pension receive a minimum award that is 65% of their salary, tax free. The city has the responsibility to the taxpayers to insure this benefit is granted responsibility, and based on the medical evidence.

Patrick Urich, Peoria City Manager

McCoy said his client is entitled to this award.

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