The New York Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled in favor of Nilda Macri, who has been in court for the last four years, trying to collect line-of-duty death benefits after her husband, NYPD Officer and September 11th first responder Frank Macri, died from lung cancer that he developed after working at Ground Zero for two months.
This decision, handed down on Tuesday, overturned a decision by the Police Medical Board and the Police Pension Fund Board, who claimed that Frank's cancer was pre-existing, meaning that Nilda would not be able to claim line-of-duty death benefits. Under the line-of-duty benefits, Nilda would be eligible for 75% of her husband's salary tax free, instead of only 50% of his salary, minus taxes.
Frank Macri was a non-smoker who worked out so frequently that he earned the nickname Gym. In August 2002, he was diagnosed with cancer that quickly and aggressively spread to his lungs, brain and liver in. He died five years later at the age of 52 - just nine days before the sixth anniversary of September 11th. According to the New York Daily News, Frank Macri was healthy prior to working at Ground Zero, and showed an x-ray taken after he was injured by debris showed no trace of cancer.
Patrick Lynch, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, told the Daily News that this was a crucial win, and underscored the need for the government to cover cancer under the Zadroga act, which gives death benefits to workers who died after contracting respiratory illnesses after working at Ground Zero.
In October 2007, Nilda Macri was denied line-of-duty death benefits, and has been fighting that ruling ever since, with help from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. In the court ruling, the Daily News reported the court as saying There is no evidence to support the medical board's conclusion ...that Macri's cancer was pre-existing. Indeed, there is evidence that just the opposite was the case.
Frank Macri will now be memorialized at Ground Zero alongside the other victims. Nilda Macri, who reportedly began crying while talking about it, told the Daily News I can't tell you how happy I am about that. I'm happy he's finally being honored.