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  1. #1
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    Default DOJ Appealing Chris Kangas Decision

    They rather spend $$ looking for Jimmy Hoffa then do the right thing..
    ****************************** ****

    Itís been four years since Julie Amber-Messick started fighting for death benefits and the right for her son, Chris Kangas, a junior firefighter who died en route to a fire in 2002, to be named on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Md.


    But itís only been about three months since sheís known victory. Amber-Messick learned in March that federal appeals Judge Marian Blank Horn ruled in her favor, legally naming her son a firefighter.

    Amber-Messick said she planned on attending the memorialís dedication ceremony in October, knowing her son would be proud his name was etched among fellow firefighters.

    Tuesday those dreams started vanishing as quickly as they arrived. The Kangasí familyís attorney, Frank Daly, informed the Daily Times that the Department of Justice has filed an appeal in federal court.




    Unless the DOJ withdraws the appeal before October, Kangasí name wonít be listed on the memorial this year, and Amber-Messick wonít receive federal death benefits worth $267,000. Sheís already received local and state benefits worth $270,000.

    "Itís disappointing, but I canít say Iím surprised," said Amber-Messick, who first started fighting the DOJ over death benefits in 2002.

    She has lost those legal battles three separate times over the past three years. The DOJ claimed each time that the Kangas family was ineligible for benefits because Chris did not fall under federal "firefighter" definitions, since he was not permitted to "fight fires."

    Horn ruled March 27 that federal definitions for a "firefighter" were much broader than the DOJ allowed.

    Daly said that according to DOJ attorney Nancy Kim, the Department of Justice decided to appeal Hornís ruling because its solicitor generalís office needed more time to review court documents.

    If the DOJ had not appealed by Saturday, he said Judge Hornís ruling would have been permanent and the Department of Justice would not have had an opportunity to appeal later.

    "Even though they had 60 days, I guess it wasnít enough time for the Department of Justice to hear from everyone they had to hear from," said Daly.

    U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon, R-7 of Thornbury, who introduced legislation that passed April 6 in the House of Representatives recognizing Kangas legally as a firefighter, called the DOJís appeal "total stupidity."

    "Itís disappointing, but at the same time, outrageous that the bureaucrats just donít get it," he said.

    "This is not about money; itís about the status of Kangas and other junior firefighters affected by this. Hundreds of fire companies in America have sent me letters, telling me how happy they are that the (March 27) ruling was finally achieved. For the Department of Justice to leave the door open for an appeal doesnít make sense."

    Weldon said he would use "whatever means" at his disposal to have Hornís decision upheld, which apparently included calling on the Attorney General to become personally involved.

    Daly said Hornís decision could still remain active if the DOJís solicitor generalís office advises the department to withdraw.

    Without a withdrawal, however, he expected a decision on the appeal in about a yea


  2. #2
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Angry Well..........

    We CAN do something constructive here. I've sent an email to my Congressman and US Senators about this. DoJ needs a reality check.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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  3. #3
    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
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    In these times dosent the DOJ have other things to worry about?
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    A true example of why there is little to no faith in our wonderful judicial / legal system.

    They say it's not about the Money......I find that hard to believe. If it was nothing more than putting this kids name on the Firefighter Memorial to recognize his efforts and devotion why would lawyers need be involved ?

    Why would they care about a name on a memorial unless there was a buck to be made ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BD6413
    A true example of why there is little to no faith in our wonderful judicial / legal system.

    They say it's not about the Money......I find that hard to believe. If it was nothing more than putting this kids name on the Firefighter Memorial to recognize his efforts and devotion why would lawyers need be involved ?

    Why would they care about a name on a memorial unless there was a buck to be made ?
    Are you saying the mother is fighting for the money? Or the DOJ is fighting to not pay?

  6. #6
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Screw it, let's save money and put everyone's name on there. Why should we care about honoring them and their sacrifices.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber Diane E's Avatar
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    If you're going to "write your congressman/senator" ask them to be a cosponsor of HR 1456 (congress) or S 491 (senate):

    http://thomas.loc.gov/ -- you can search here.
    "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
    -- Jim Henson (1936 - 1990)

  8. #8
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BD6413
    A true example of why there is little to no faith in our wonderful judicial / legal system.

    They say it's not about the Money......I find that hard to believe. If it was nothing more than putting this kids name on the Firefighter Memorial to recognize his efforts and devotion why would lawyers need be involved ?

    Why would they care about a name on a memorial unless there was a buck to be made ?
    Another MUTT heard from......... It's the principle of the matter. Had he been MY son, I would have wanted his name on the memorial enough to have gotten attorneys involved........
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quick question: Since when is the government allowed to appeal a case? Only the victim/plaintiff can appeal a case to a higher court. Another question: What the hell does DoJ have to do with a CIVIL CASE. Their job is law enforcement, not micromanaging civil cases. I thought we had a war on terror going on...

  10. #10
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    If I remember the rules that decide if a death is a LODD and if it qualifies for federal LODD benefits are written by the DoJ.

  11. #11
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    If its truly not about the money, then how about they go ahead and let his name go on the memorial along with all the ceremonial stuff and the family can be happy with the money they have already received.

  12. #12
    Forum Member martinm's Avatar
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    Whats the betting they stall until after October, so the family miss this years ceremony?
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

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    Millerman,

    I'm not saying that it's the mother making the fight for the money....She's even made that clear in past interviews and articles that I've read. The DOJ is involved and why ? they don't want to see this guy honored and/compensated. -- Sorry for not clarifying that.

    FWDbuff,

    Seeing you're from "pee Ayy" You 'ought to be well aware of what's been occuring. Kris deserves to have his name on the monument, his family compensated, and this mess put to rest.-- I'll agree if he too was my son or belonged to my company I'd want lawyers involved to fight for that. What you didn't see by my post was the fact that Our wonderful judicial system at the higher levels doesn't want Kris honored, his family compensated, or this whole disaster put to rest. They want to keep drawing this out because there is money involved. I truly believe this is turing into a case of greedy lawyers and a bunch of pollitical horse sh** that doesn't need to be.

    But in your eyes I'll remain Just another MUTT ! Thanks

  14. #14
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    BD6413- I owe you an aplogy! Seems my anger about this whole thing clouded my ability to read for comprehension. First reading of your post made me think that you assumed the family was only in it for the money, and thats why they got the lawyers involved.

    After further review, and reading your recent post, I retract my statement, hang my head in shame and owe you a beer.

    And yes, as far as the DOJ goes, it is all about the money. They are very afraid of setting a precedent here- If they pay the Kangas Family, they may very well have to pay out a lot more money in the future, until if and when, (and it WILL happen, I guarantee that!) they re-write their reqiurements/statuates for eligibility of the benefits. You can bet that Junior or Cadet Firefighters will not be included.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  15. #15
    Forum Member tfd181's Avatar
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    Am I the only one here who feels like the definition of LODD has become so broad and all encompassing that it has lost all meaning?

    As it stands, apparently from the time you join a department untill you retire, if you die it can be made to be an LODD.........

    Fell off a ladder when your pager went off? LODD

    Driving like a maniac to the fire station? LODD

    Run over by your own rig at a controlled burn when you are drunk? LODD

    Die hours after an alarm drop at home from a heart attack? LODD

    If you want to give peoeple money, go right ahead. It's like an insurance policy you get as a benefit for signing up, but to considering anything as a LODD disrespects the brothers who died truly in the line of duty.

    I am a military vet. If I was hurt or killed during normal ops outside of a war zone, my family would have been compensated monetarily. However, I would not recieve a Purple Heart, which is reserved for those who sustain injury as a result of enemy action. Thus, the medal retains it's honor.

    This seems to be aproblem in our society in general. These days everyone is special, everyones a hero - no matter what. Kids in school ae rewarded for watered down acievements, people just doing there jobs are treated as extrodinary. For example; I was involved in a rescue this winter. Actually, I helped load the victim in the ambulance and worked the code on the way to the hospital, just like every other cardiac arrest. However, she was pulled from the river by the squad guys. They are the ones who went willingly into harms way, I just had an EMS call.....but EVERYONE was honred. I think people that weren't even there got awards! Sure, looks good in the news. To me it takes away from the true danger that was faced by the guys in the water.

    Riding your bike to the fire house to respond on a non-emergency cover assignment as an explorer does not put you on par with the brothers who died on 9/11, or in Worcester or in the countless other fires over the years.

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    Great post TFD. I have felt the same as you do. I do feel that the LODD has lost something over the years. DoJ has to do something, It is getting out of hand quickly!!

  17. #17
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    TFD- Though I agree with some of what you said, I have to wholeheartedly disagree with what you said concerning Kris Kangas-

    -Fact: He was a qualified responder, acting in accordance with the rules and regulations pertaining to junior firefighters of the Brookhaven Volunteer Fire Company.

    -Fact: He heard the Fire Company's siren while at a friend's home, located near the fire station. He did not know what the circumstances were- he did not know that it was merely for a cover assignment. For all he knew it was a box alarm for a 10 story building with fire on 7 floors.

    -Fact: He responded. Again, in accordance with the rules and regs of his organization.

    -Fact: He was struck by a car, and died of injuires sustained while responding to an alarm of fire.

    -Fact: The kid was dedicated. The kid died doing what the rest of us do hundreds of time a year- go out the door knowing damn well we may or may not come home.

    -Fact: He deserves to have his name on that wall. Plain and simple. Why dont you have a seance (spelling?) contact the 343 Firefighters who died on 9-11 (Many of whom were volunteers in the communities in which they lived) or the Worcester 6, and ask THEM if they think Kris Kangas deserves to have his name on that wall?
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  18. #18
    Forum Member Chauffeur6's Avatar
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    First, about the Kangas situation, it's sad, and the government really ought to worry about more pressing issues than dragging some poor, grieving mother to court to prevent her son from being properly honored. Really, it's shameful. I do consider his death a LODD after taking all the facts into consideration.

    That being said, I also wholeheartedly agree with tfd181. There is a very bad trend the past decade or so of stretching just about any firefighter death to a LODD. It really does diminish the whole point of it, and I do not agree with that.

    Back in 1994, one of our older members had a massive heart attack in the firehouse. If I recall correctly, he was at least 70 years old. He was the company secretary and was opening mail while sitting at a table in the dining hall, chatting with several other older members. This happened at around 8pm on our weekly truck/equipment maintenance and drill night. I happened to be upstairs on the apparatus floor when it happened, and someone rushed up to get me (I was EMS Captain/EMT at the time). We performed CPR and ALS arrived within 3 minutes, to no avail, he passed away. While he was a very long time, respected and loved member of the company...and while he was technically performing fire company duties at the time of his death...and while it did happen in the firehouse...and while it did happen on a drill night...I do not believe it was a LODD, nor do I agree with the fact that it was considered a LODD and still is to this day. Believe me, I'm not being insensitive at all, as I said I was literally the first person to touch him to attempt to save his life, and I was fairly close to him and his family. But a true LODD it was not.

    I believe LODD should be reserved for actual fireground deaths only. A heart attack that leads to death within 24 hours should also fall under LODD, not unlike dying from wounds received at the scene at a later date.

  19. #19
    Forum Member tfd181's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=FWDbuff]
    -Fact: He was a qualified responder, acting in accordance with the rules and regulations pertaining to junior firefighters of the Brookhaven Volunteer Fire Company.

    What exactly are you qualified to do as a 14 year old on a fireground? Maybe the problem here is a department that considers children to be an intregal part of their response. If all he was qualified to do was support work in a safe area, then maybe we should consider fire buffs, photographers, and the ladies auxillary for LODD benefits as well should they die at, near, or on the way to a fire.



    -Fact: The kid was dedicated. The kid died doing what the rest of us do hundreds of time a year- go out the door knowing damn well we may or may not come home.


    Again, a 14 year old explorer should not be going out the door "not knowing if he will come home". He's a child for christ sake! You shouldn't be risking your life at that age. What other profession does that to children????? Any department that puts children in harms way, or approves of them doing so should be investigated, shut down, and it's officers arrested. Dangerous child labor has been illegal for a long, long time. As far as being dedicated, my department has a few dedicated buffs that are at every fire religously, helping out where they can. They are by no means considered firefighters.



    The death of a child is a tragedy of the greatest magnitude. I am not trying to diminish that, and I hope my comments are not taken as such. However, I do not belive that it qualifies as a LODD.
    Last edited by tfd181; 06-03-2006 at 02:31 PM.

  20. #20
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    FWD Buff,

    No Problem...I re-read my previous post and understand how it could have been mis-understood

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