“Taking care of their own” – Callahan claim filed
October 29, 2010
San Luis Obispo city officials have confirmed that a workers compensation claim based on presumptive causes was filed on behalf of former Fire Chief John Callahan that is slated to cost the taxpayers about $7,000 per month.
Callahan, 61, died suddenly of a heart attack on Aug. 18 while playing softball at Santa Rosa Park. Within weeks, a workers’ compensation claim was filed.
“It is a brother or sisterhood and they are taking care of their own,” said one former San Luis Obispo council member, who asked not to be identified.
City councilwoman, and mayoral candidate, Jan Marx told CalCoastNews that the issue has not been brought in front of the city council at this time, but noted the sensitive nature of the subject because Callahan was “beloved.”
Presumptive injuries, which include heart attacks, are injuries that have developed while working on the job. State laws allow for public safety workers to file claims of work related injuries not afforded to the general public.
Even so, according to California Labor Code section 3212, “The hernia, heart trouble, or pneumonia so developing or manifesting itself in those cases shall in no case be attributed to any disease existing prior to that development or manifestation.”
Callahan had a previous heart attack about a year ago, sources said.
In order to be fully vested in CalPERS, a person has to have worked for a department for five years. Callahan was about 10 weeks short of five years when he died and was not eligible for a city retirement.
However, if it is determined Callahan was on the job when he suffered a heart attack or that the heart attack was caused from his work as a fire fighter, his widow could be eligible for a tax free workers compensation benefit.
After 32 years with the Los Angeles Fire Department Callahan retired and began drawing a pension of approximately $170,000 a year. Callahan was appointed San Luis Obispo fire chief in Nov. 2005 and planned on retiring as soon as he was fully vested in CalPERS, Nov. 2010.