Houston, TX — The family of Margaret Roberts, a Black firefighter with the Houston Fire Department who died battling cancer directly caused by her work as confirmed by the fire department chief, has been fighting to have her pension benefits. Their case is more than a year old, but the city of Houston refuses to compensate them claiming that her illness was caused by her being Black.
For more than 21 years, Margaret was in service as a firefighter for the Houston Fire Department, until she began to suffer from multiple myeloma.
“I had to sit there for almost five years and watch her die daily,” Margaret’s husband, Daniel Roberts, said.
Since her death in January 2017, her family has been dealing with her loss and with the fight for the benefits she has earned but hasn’t been granted.
Houston Fire Department Chief Sam Pena wrote in a letter to the state pension three months after Roberts’ death confirming that it “was a result of an illness sustained in the line of duty.” After that, he also wrote a letter to 100 Club saying that it was “Declared a Line of Duty Death.”
The confirmations made by the fire department chief himself should have entitled Roberts’ family to benefits paid by groups besides the city of Houston. However, the benefits from city funds are ultimately being brought to court.
“The city saw the opportunity to re-dispute the claim starting all over again, said Roberts attorney Mike Sprain.
The city has already lost the case for Roberts’ health benefits when she was alive but they’re trying to fight again on a similar issue now that she’s dead, claiming that her multiple myeloma was not caused by her work as a firefighter, but instead of her weight, family history, and race.
Meanwhile, Robert’s occupational doctor declared in 2013, “In my professional opinion, Margaret Roberts’ multiple myeloma is work-related.”
The International Firefighters Union, as well as four states in the US, specifically recognize the connection of firefighting to multiple myeloma. There are also studies that confirmed an “increased” or “significantly elevated” risk for firefighters getting multiple myeloma.
Yet Texas ignores all these and instead decides to follow the recommendation from United Nations that doesn’t categorically link cancer to firefighting.
“I guess they don’t want to pay the benefits that me and my kids have coming,” Daniel Roberts said.
The city didn’t make any comment about the lawsuit.
DNA Test Proved Otherwise
Black Man Convicted of Murder Still in Prison After 7 Years Despite DNA Test Proving His Innocence
Houston, TX — 42-year old Lydell Grant, a Black man from Texas, has been behind bars for the past 7 years serving a life sentence after being convicted of a murder that he says he did not commit. There has even been a DNA test administered that has proved his innocence, and yet he still remains in prison.
Grant was accused of chasing down and fatally stabbing Aaron Scheerhoorn, a 28-year old man, near a night club in Montrose, Texas in December 2010. Grant was arrested days after the incident because of a Crime Stoppers tip.
During the trial, no one testified about whether the victim and Grant, who was a gang member and has previous arrest records, knew each other before the incident. He has since maintained his innocence and said that he did not commit the crime. But in 2012, Grant was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murder.
Just recently, new evidence and testimonies prove his innocence. Aside from eyewitnesses who said Grant was not the one who killed the victim, the state DNA expert testified that Grant’s DNA does not match the DNA recovered from below the victim’s fingernails.
Moreover, the DNA test, which was even retested by the Innocence Project of Texas and the DPS crime lab, reveals that the identified suspect still remains at large.
While his release and exoneration are on the process, he could have been released on bond. Last week, Grant was in court for the hearing that would allow him to be released on bond, but the judge ruled he will remain in custody.
Another hearing is scheduled in late November but his family was somehow disappointed that Grant would still have to remain in custody and their reunion was postponed until then.
“We know he’s innocent, and we’re gonna fight to the end,” his aunt, Kitsye Grant, told ABC13. “They really need to go and find the right person. What I feel bad for is the mother of the young man, the victim. They got the wrong person.”
6th Annual Rance Olison Sr. “Celebrity Sports Trivia Night” Gala
San Antonio, TX— The NFL Former Players Association San Antonio-Austin Chapter will host their 6th Annual Rance Olison Sr. “Celebrity Sports Trivia Night” Gala, October 12, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., at the Plaza Club, located on the 21 st floor of the Frost Bank Tower, 100 W. Houston St.
Rance “Sonny” William Olison used his athleticism to open doors that led to an advanced education and a lifetime of philanthropy. “He had a lot of great one-liners I find myself repeating, like: ‘To be a gainer, you must be a giver,’” former NFL and University of Texas running back Priest Holmes said about his friend. Olison called himself a “suitcase” player because he played in four professional football leagues including the NFL. He was a cornerback with the San Francisco 49ers in 1976. He also played for the Texarkana Phantoms in Arkansas from 1977-78, the Kansas City Chiefs in 1979, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1980, among others.
Olison also served as an assistant coach for the Dallas Cowboys and instructed many young people in sports throughout the years. Wanting to empower others, Olison also become a history teacher and philanthropist. During his reign as president of the NFL Former Players Association San Antonio-Austin Chapter, the organization worked with the San Antonio-based Priest Holmes Foundation to provide scholarships for students to help them step into promising futures.
On March 11, at age 65, Olison died of heart complications. To honor all of his accomplishments, The NFL Former Players Association San Antonio-Austin Chapter will host their 6th Annual Rance Olison Sr. “Celebrity Sports Trivia Night” Gala, October 12, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., at the Plaza Club, located on the 21st floor of the Frost Bank Tower, 100 W. Houston St.
The event will feature a dinner, dance and silent auction. There will be several Former NFL, NBA and MLB players in San Antonio, Texas to take part in this event.
Proceeds will benefit the Mrs. Carrie Kendrix Buggs Turkey giveaway in Rance hometown in Arkansas and in San Antonio on December for families in need.
Tickets can be purchased on Event Brite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/6th-annual-rance-olison-celebrity-sports-trivia-night-gala-tickets-65676737891