EDDIE R. JONES, SR.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, ex rel. DAVID VON MOLL, COMPTROLLER
THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF HAMPTON Christopher W.
BERNARD GOODWYN JUSTICE
appeal, we consider whether the circuit court erred when it
ruled that a retired firefighter was not a disabled person
entitled to receive health insurance benefits under the
Virginia Line of Duty Death and Disability Act.
21, 2015, Eddie R. Jones, Sr. (Jones) filed a complaint in
the Circuit Court of the City of Hampton, appealing "an
adverse decision of the Commonwealth of Virginia/Office of
the Comptroller" (Comptroller) that denied him health
insurance coverage, owed to disabled persons, under the
Virginia Line of Duty Death and Disability Act, Code §
9.1-400 et seq. (the Act). After a bench trial, the
circuit court concluded that the Comptroller had properly
applied the provisions of the Act, and dismissed Jones's
Before testimony was taken at trial, counsel for Jones read a
list of agreed stipulations into the record:
1. The parties agree that [Jones] was employed with the City
of Hampton as a firefighter from October 5, 1977 to August 1,
2. The parties agree that [Jones] took a service-connected
retirement-that is, a retirement based on years of service,
and was effectively retired from the fire department as of
August 1, 2010.
3. The parties agree that [Jones] was diagnosed with throat
cancer on March 11, 2011.
4. The parties agree that one of his treating physicians, Dr.
John Mattern, . . . opined that [Jones] was incapacitated
from further performance of duty as of November 6, 2013.
testified that he did not experience any health problems
while he worked as a firefighter and that he "never had
any issues with the physicals" that were administered
each year. He explained that his retirement was not
health-related but occurred because the City "offered a
20 percent buyout."
October 2010, Jones began experiencing a problem with his
ear. He visited an ear, nose, and throat specialist who
discovered that he had a cyst in his "nasal area."
A biopsy was performed and Jones was diagnosed with throat
cancer on March 11, 2011. Thereafter, Jones underwent
"35 radiation treatments and 12 rounds of chemo."
submitted into evidence a November 6, 2013 Report (Report)
completed by Dr. Mattern, the oncologist who performed the
chemotherapy treatments. The Report stated that Jones became
unable to work as of the date of his diagnosis, March 11,
2011, and that although the cancer was in remission,
"[t]here is no way that [Jones] can safely work in any
polluted atmosphere (fumes or smoke) as this would trigger
significant respiratory distress and airway compromise."
Dr. Mattern explained that Jones "should be considered
disabled on the basis of a very bad cancer, " which
could "recur at any time, " and "the
toxicities of treatment have been such that [Jones] . . . is
at risk for developing significant respiratory distress if
exposed to any kinds of fumes or smoke."
also submitted a "stipulated award order" entered
by the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission that
awarded him "temporary total disability benefits"
and "all reasonable and necessary medical expenses"