The City of Bellevue employed Raum as a firefighter for more than 19 years. Over the course of his career, Raum was evaluated several times for smoke inhalation at the scene of a fire. Sometime in 2008, Raum began experiencing chest pain. He experienced such pain three different times while at work. After the third occurrence, Raum applied to the Department of Labor and Industries for benefits, alleging he had sustained an industrial injury to this chest. L&I denied Raum’s claim on the basis that his condition was not an “occupational injury” or “occupational disease.”

Raum subsequently appealed L&I’s decision to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, arguing that L&I failed to properly apply RCW 51.32.185’s evidentiary presumption. After a hearing before the Board, the industrial appeals judge issued a proposed decision and order reversing L&I’s decision. The City petitioned the Board for review, which the Board denied. The Board adopted the IAJ’s decision and order, and the City then appealed to King County Superior Court.

The superior court conducted a jury trial, during which the City presented evidence that Raum suffered from multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease and had coronary disease. Raum presented medical testimony that was inconclusive regarding the cause of Raum’s heart problems. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the City, and Raum appealed, arguing that (1) the trial court’s jury instructions and special verdict form inadequately stated the law; (2) the trial court improperly excluded testimony produced to the Board; and (3) insufficient evidence supports the jury’s verdict.

The Court of Appeals affirmed:

  • RCW 51.32.185(1) merely provides for a rebuttable evidentiary presumption that a firefighter-claimant’s respiratory disease, hear-related problem, cancer, and infectious disease is an occupational disease. It does not create a separate cause of action.
  • Based on the fact that RCW 51.32..185(1) does not create a separate claim, the jury instructions and special verdict form were proper.
  • A preponderance of the evidence supported the jury’s verdict.

The Court of Appeals declined to review Raum’s evidentiary challenges because his appeal provided “no meaningful legal analysis and cites no authority to support his arguments.”

Read the October 8, 2012 opinion