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January 9, 2010
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Court upholds denial of heart disease coverage to smoker

The Nevada Supreme Court on Friday upheld a ruling that a Las Vegas police officer was not entitled to coverage for heart disease.

Under state law, a police officer continuously employed for more than five years is entitled to the presumption that any heart disease is work related. Patricia Guesman, however, was denied coverage by both the hearing officer and a district judge.

The Supreme Court noted coverage is not automatic if "after the police officer's annual medical exam, the examining physician ordered her in writing to correct a predisposing condition that was within her ability to correct and the officer failed to do so."

The three-justice panel of Ron Parraguirre, Michael Douglas and Kris Pickering pointed out that smoking is a predisposing condition to heart disease. Guesman was warned to stop smoking but failed to do so.

"Accordingly, we conclude that the appeals officer properly determined that Guesman was not entitled to the conclusive presumption that her heart disease was work related," the decision states.

They also said she failed to provide evidence her heart condition was caused by her employment instead of smoking.

Guesman worked for the Metropolitan Police Department for 21 years. According to court records, she was advised that she needed to quit her pack-a-day smoking habit at each of her last six annual physicals.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jan 9, 2010 03:12AM Published Jan 9, 2010 03:12AM Copyright 2010 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.