Glendale firefighter who died of brain cancer had his claim denied

Under state law, brain cancer is presumed to be occupational cancer for firefighters, but officials confirm Mark Fowl's claim has not been covered yet.
Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 8:54 PM MST
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GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Firefighters across the Valley are mourning the death of longtime Glendale firefighter Mark Fowl, who died from brain cancer on Monday. Under state law, brain cancer is presumed to be occupational cancer for firefighters, but officials confirm his claim has not been covered yet. It’s hard enough for the Fowl family to grieve the loss of Mark, but Glendale’s third-party insurer ‘CorVel’ denied his insurance claim.

The thing is: we know the city has the power to reverse that. Why? Because they did it for another firefighter in 2019. There’s also a state fund set up specifically to refund the city if they cover the claim, so the question is: why isn’t that happening?

Mark Fowl served with the Glendale Fire Department for 21 years before his year-long battle with brain cancer that led to his death. “It’s not just a story to everybody. This is real, and we know the pain that they’re feeling,” said Marie Peck.

Peck and her family now share a bond they never wanted to with the Fowl family. Goodyear firefighter Austin Peck passed away from work-related cancer in 2019. Peck’s cancer claim still hasn’t been covered, and we learned Mark Fowl’s claim was also denied in October of this year, even though brain cancer is an occupational cancer covered under state law for firefighters.

This means his family won’t receive any line-of-duty death benefits or help for the costs they’ve already paid for his treatment. “They’ve got to do something. All over the country it’s covered. It’s covered,” Peck said with frustration.

This isn’t the first time this has happened with Glendale. It was back in 2019 when the city overturned their third party ‘CorVel’s’ decision to deny Glendale firefighter Kevin Thompson’s claim after months of Arizona’s Family investigations.

But state senator Paul Boyer said overturning CorVel isn’t the only option. “I just want to remind Glendale and any other city out there that has a cancer claim that we intentionally provided $15 million for cities statewide to reimburse exactly these kinds of claims, and brain cancer is on the list,” said Boyer.

We asked the City of Glendale questions about Fowl’s open cancer claim and were told, “we will not comment on anything personal or health related” by a city communications person.

But Glendale Vice Mayor and council member Jamie Aldama said the city attorney told him he could talk about this. He told Arizona’s Family a different third party outside of CorVel is now reviewing the claim, and they haven’t heard back yet.

The City can still be reimbursed by the state’s $15 million fund right now, so we asked Aldama why that isn’t happening. “I don’t know why that’s not happening right now,” said Aldama. “I already have a call into the city manager to find out why aren’t we doing this now, and what are the next steps for the city council to get together and look at covering this claim,” said Aldama.

Aldama said he would do what he could to get this claim covered. “What I’m told from his firefighter colleague: one of the best. The absolute best firefighter we have,” Aldama said. “We lost Mark and now his family will be fighting for his line of duty benefits that they so deserve.” Aldama says he needs the support of three other council members to either request a special meeting from the mayor or request the city manager to ask for the state fund reimbursement to cover the claim.

Arizona’s Family called CorVel Tuesday to ask for their media contact to find out why they denied Fowl’s cancer claim in the first place, and they told us they don’t have a media contact and they’re not interested.