SAIF v. Thompson

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Workers Compensation
  • Date Filed: 08-04-2016
  • Case #: S062030
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kistler, J. for the Court; Balmer, C.J.; Kistler, J.; Walters, J.; Landau, J.; Baldwin, J.; Brewer, J.; & Nakamoto, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 656.802(4), a claimant must prove: (1) claimant was employed for five or more years as a firefighter for a political division; (2) claimant’s death, disability, or impairment of health was caused by one of the listed diseases; (3) a physical exam failed to reveal that the condition or impairment preexisted employment. If the elements are proven, a rebuttable presumption is available that the condition resulted from the firefighter’s employment and is an occupational disease.

This workers’ compensation case applied the statutory presumption known as “firefighters presumption.” The “firefighters presumption” states that if a claimant established certain predicate facts, then the claimant’s condition resulted from his or her employment and was an occupational disease. Under ORS 656.802(4) that claimant must prove: (1) claimant was employed for five or more years as a firefighter for a political division; (2) claimant’s death, disability, or impairment of health was caused by one of the listed diseases; (3) a physical exam failed to reveal that the condition or impairment preexisted employment. If proven, a rebuttable presumption is available that the condition resulted from the firefighter’s employment and is an occupational disease. The burden of proof requires the employer to prove by clear and convincing medical evidence that the cause of the condition is unrelated to the firefighter’s employment. The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The order of the Workers’ Compensation Board is affirmed because the Board could reasonably find the testimony not persuasive, due to internal inconsistencies, and the burden not met.

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