Appeals court upholds pension benefits for widow of Buffalo Grove firefighter
An appellate panel has upheld a ruling that the widow of a Buffalo Grove firefighter who died of colon cancer is entitled to receive her husband's full pension benefits.
A panel of three judges Friday affirmed the decision of a Lake County circuit court, which upheld the Buffalo Grove Firefighters Pension Board's decision granting Kimberly Hauber, the widow of firefighter Kevin Hauber, his full pension of $101,549 a year.
Hauber, 51, who worked nearly 24 years for the Buffalo Grove Fire Department, died in January 2018 after a long battle with cancer.
The fire pension board ruled that Hauber's colon cancer was the result of the cumulative effects of acts of duty.
However, the village contended that there is insufficient scientific evidence linking firefighting with colon cancer. The village maintained that Kimberly Hauber instead should receive 75 percent of his pension, about $76,161 a year. The difference, according to the village, will amount to about $1.7 million.
"We continue to mourn the loss of Kevin Hauber and are grateful for the contributions he made to our community; however, we are also required to uphold our core obligation to be responsible stewards of property taxpayers' funds," Village Manager Dane Bragg said in an announcement of the appeal.
The village also argued that the case could set a costly precedent for taxpayers across the state.
On Friday, however, the panel of the Appellate Court of Illinois Second District sided with the pension board.
The decision noted that fire department records showed Hauber responded to at least 127 fire calls that included building fires, vehicle fires, and outdoor fires involving flammable chemicals over the course of his career.
Buffalo Grove officials said Friday they were unable to comment on the case. Thomas Duda, the attorney for Kimberly Hauber, could not be reached for comment Friday.