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Mission City Official’s side with local firefighter amid pending lawsuit

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A Mission firefighter fought for his life, first battling cancer. Now, he continues to fight- this time, a legal battle.

Mission firefighter Homer Salinas fought for his life, first battling cancer he says he got while on the job.

He continues to fight. This time, a legal battle. Salinas was diagnosed with cancer last year.

After going back and forth to receive worker’s compensation, he finally got it. But now the insurance company, the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool (TMLIRP), is firing back.

“We should not have to go through this,” said Salinas. “My family should not have to go through what they are going through.”

In January, TMLIRP filed an appeal on behalf of the City of Mission, requesting a judicial review of the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation.

But city officials said the company did not have discretion to sue in their name.

On Wednesday night, city commission members held a special meeting to discuss the issue.

The city commission unanimously ruled against the appeal filed by the TMLIRP and reaffirmed their support for Salinas.

“The law is very restrictive in nature and yes, it needs to be reformed and yes it needs to be addressed,” said Mission Mayor Armando O’Caña.

For Salinas, the support is welcomed but said more should’ve been done to avoid the litigation.

“My question is, how did we get to this point?” he said. “How can we let municipality give that much power to a second entity and you have no control of it?”

Robert Lopez, President of the Mission Firefighters Association, said at least six other firefighters in his chapter have had similar work-related illnesses.

Salinas’ case could set a precedent for all firefighters, not only here in the Rio Grande Valley, but also nationwide, said Lopez.

”It’s a dangerous job and we just hope that when we need help, somebody is there for us,” said Lopez.

While Salinas is now in good health, he said this is a battle he will continue fighting.

“If I don’t make the stand, other firefighters are going to have the same problem,” said Salinas.

Mission city officials said Wednesday night that they will go before the TMLIRP board to pursue the company to drop the lawsuit against Salinas.

O’Caña will be traveling to Austin on Tuesday to lobby for legislation that will ensure worker’s compensation for firefighters like Salinas who get ill while on the job.

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