NJ Supreme Court Upholds The Rights of Firefighters Who Suffer Lung Disease

A unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court decided that firefighters, whether paid or volunteer, may receive Workers’ Compensation benefits for developing respiratory illness and lung disease as a result of exposure to asbestos, fumes and other toxic substances encountered on the job. Decided February 11, 2002, the case of Culbert vs. City of Jersey City and its companion Lindquist vs. City of Jersey City, reversed the Judgment of the Appellate Division, which threw out the firefighter’s claims.

Justice Coleman, a former Judge of the Workers’ Compensation Court, authored the Opinion which extends the Firefighter Presumption of Compensability portion of the Act to paid firefighters in that any condition or impairment of any member of a volunteer or paid fire department caused by a disease of the respiratory system shall be presumed to be an occupational disease. The Court also held that the stringent standard of occupational heart disease cases does not apply to a lung disease case.

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