Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

The financial future of the family of a 51-year-old Buffalo Grove firefighter who died of colon cancer will soon be decided by a trio of appellate court judges who on Tuesday began considering a decision to award his widow and their four children her late husband’s full pension benefits.

The case involves the Village of Buffalo Grove’s appeal to the Second District Appellate Court to overturn a 100% line of duty death pension benefit award to the family of late Firefighter Kevin Hauber. The move to award full pension benefits was approved by the village’s Firefighters’ Pension Board in 2018 and upheld earlier this year by a Lake County Circuit Court judge.

Village officials said earlier this year that they appealed the lower court’s ruling to award Kevin Hauber’s widow the 100% line of duty death pension benefit award due to concerns that it could set what they described as, a dangerous and costly legal precedent. The village attorney said while Kevin Hauber provided 23 years of honorable service to the village, including some 127 calls that involved a fire, the burden of proof to receive the 100% line of duty benefit was not met under the state’s statutory requirements.

“There is no direct evidence of whether he was actually exposed to carcinogens and toxic smoke” that caused him to develop colon cancer, Nichols said.

One of the attorneys representing the Hauber family, disagreed, saying that the village’s job description for firefighters states that part of the job duties involve situations where they will be exposed to various toxic substances, including carcinogenic materials.

Appellate Justice Joseph Birkett on Tuesday said the lower court before making a ruling reviewed Hauber’s medical history, which found no history of colon cancer in his family, which was affirmed by genetic testing.

“He was 51, and otherwise in good health, and was not a drinker, and there’s no genetic predisposition found, and he was exposed to fires. The village’s own job description describes exposure to toxic substances,” Birkett said. “Firefighters are exposed to cancerous substances, and in this case, there’s proof in the record that he was exposed to smoke and chemicals.”

The village attorney told the justices to consider that Hauber never filed a formal complaint with the department regarding concerns about any incidents in which he may have been exposed to toxic chemicals.

Village officials have said that Hauber’s widow and daughters are entitled to a surviving spouse benefit, which is equal to 75% of her late husband’s final salary of $101,549, or $76,161 annually. The Buffalo Grove Firefighters Pension Board awarded the additional pension benefit of about $25,000 annually to the Hauber family, a ruling based on the pension board’s conclusion that his service as a firefighter caused his colon cancer, of which he died in January 2018.

Village officials have said previously that they appealed the lower court judge’s ruling to uphold the 100% pension benefit to the Hauber family, as it would cost the village an estimated additional $1.7 million due to the line of duty death award.