A retired FDNY firefighter’s fight for a 9/11 pension gets a little help from an NYPD detective whose death from Lou Gehrig’s disease was linked to months he spent at Ground Zero .
Firefighter Robert Olsen claims he suffered from asthma resulting from Lou Gehrig’s disease following 30 days of breathing in the toxic air while assisting rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site in 2001.
But the FDNY board of directors denied his request for a tax-free pension on September 11, saying there was “no evidence” that he contracted the health problems while working on the pile.
In a lawsuit filed Oct. 31, Olsen’s attorney cites a court ruling that tied NYPD Emergency Services Unit Detective Michael Hanson’s Lou Gehrig’s Disease – formerly known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS – to the eight months he spent amid the wreckage of the World Trade Center.
On January 24, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lynn Kotler determined Detective Hanson’s 2018 death was linked to his time at Ground Zero, allowing his wife Cathy to collect a 9/11 disability pension. , which would be three-quarters of its last year. salary.
The city immediately pledged to appeal Judge Kotler’s decision, but has yet to file paperwork. After winning two extensions, the city has until Nov. 21 to file its appeal, a source with knowledge of the matter said.
Autopsy results showed that massive traces of antimony, a heavy metal discovered at the World Trade Center site, were found in Hanson’s brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid, linking his ALS to his passage to the scene of the attack.
“I have always been of the opinion that the deterioration and eventual death (of Detective Hanson) had some causality with his exposures to the motives of 9/11,” said a letter from Dr. Andrew Hirsh cited in Cathy’s lawsuit. Hanson.
“I believe that his toxic exposures played a real impact on the deterioration of his overall health and the trigger for neurological decline,” Hirsh’s letter states. “I think future studies and monitoring will confirm this relationship in others who have had similar exposure.”
In his lawsuit, Olsen says his blood was also tested for heavy metals.
“The results showed an increase in antimony levels in his blood,” the lawsuit states. “Fireman Olsen’s Ground Zero exposure was also presumed to have caused the rise in antimony levels.”
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“Given the identical facts presented in [the] Hansen [case]the Medical Board’s mere conclusive statement denying Firefighter Olsen’s presumption of ALS is arbitrary and capricious on its face,” the lawsuit states, asking the FDNY Medical Board to reconsider its decision.
The FDNY Medical Board determined that Olsen’s asthma was related to his ALS. If that were true, then under the Hanson decision, firefighter’s asthma would also be considered a 9/11 illness, according to the lawsuit.
Cathy Hanson was happy to hear that others fighting for their legitimate 9/11 pensions were looking to her husband’s case for help.
“Mike would be so humbled and thrilled to have his name still used to help people, because that’s what he’s done his whole life,” Hanson said. “He would also joke about how his name is now on the law books.”
The city is looking into Olsen’s case.
“We are carefully reviewing these two tragic cases, which is the normal course of current and new business,” said city legal department spokesman Nick Paolucci. “We will respond in court accordingly.”
A call to Olsen’s attorney was not immediately returned.