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One of Our Own Needs Help

Why is Half Moon Bay refusing earned medical benefits and workman's comp to one of our own — Dennis Louball, a longtime Half Moon Bay police officer, who is fighting cancer?

One of our own has fallen and needs our help.

His name is Dennis Louball, a longtime Half Moon Bay police officer that moved to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office when Half Moon Bay disbanded its Police Department in favor of the Sheriff’s Office in 2011. 

Dennis started his law enforcement carrer with the Half Moon Bay Police Department in 1997. I have no doubt that everyone has, at one time or another, run into Dennis or have been helped by him in one way or another. He was a dedicated member of the Half Moon Bay Police Department and worked tirelessly for us in many ways. I know he was there for me more than once or twice.

Dennis, a Moss Beach resident, is married with two young children (boy and girl), one in elementary school and the other too young yet.

Dennis was first diagnosed with lymphoma in his leg immediately after the transition from Half Moon Bay Police Department to the Sheriff's Office. He fought it with chemo, and it was covered through his Sheriff's Office benefits. Being the person he is, he continued working, being a father and husband through his fight with cancer.

However, when the cancer came back from remission, stronger than it had been in the first place, the County informed him that they could no longer cover him because it appeared to be pre-existing from his Half Moon Bay Police Department days and therefore fell under Half Moon Bay’s Workman Comp. Half Moon Bay disputes that, just as they disputed another Half Moon Bay Police Department officer’s illness claim in the mid-2000’s; Officer Bogner’s claim.

Since coverage has been denied, Dennis has been forced to use up all his earned benefits — sick leave, vacation time and comp time just to pay his bills; normal bills that we all have plus his medical bills. Since he has exhausted all his accumulated resources of relief, he has resorted to what is called Catastrophic Leave. That allows other County employees to donate their earned and saved sick leave to Dennis so he can hopefully feed his family in these very difficult times.

Police and Fire fall under the CA Labor Code, which call cancer an injury, which then qualifies that individual the right to claim the illness under Workman’s Comp. That can be found under Section 3212 of the CA Labor Code; specifically, Section 3212.1, so the City of Half Moon Bay has a very prominent role in this matter per their contract with the Half Moon Bay Police Department Officer’s Association supported by California Labor Code. It is very clear.

This, for me, is deja-vu all over again. I remember the shaft Bogner got. I remember Bogner and his wife out in front of Safeway with a card table and large jar, collecting donations from locals to eat. It was ugly, yet after all was said and done, after he and his family suffered to Hell and back, the City finally accepted their responsibility and settled.

Half Moon Bay is refusing coverage for one of our own — Dennis Louball — a very nice person, a very dedicated person, a very hard and honest worker and longtime Half Moon Bay Police Officer forcing him and his family into poverty because of cancer, which is clearly covered under contract and California Code. The only thing left that Dennis may have is his dignity, and the City is taking that, too.

I have but one simple, but glaring question for Half Moon Bay: Why???

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George Muteff March 06, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Christian, the best way that I can think of is through public pressure. So, the best way that I can think to create political pressure for change would be to write to all Council members. Write early, write often. Ask questions, which will illicit responses. Make them even one tenth as uncomfortable as their carrier has made those that needed help feel through the years and been "Denied". Workman's Comp is law. Who provides that insurance, however, is open. HMB needs to change providers. Should have done so years ago, when they first got wind of the provider they have handles cases. One has to wonder why a change hasn't already been changed. It almost appears that the leadership we've had over the years on the Council just doesn't care - because they know and have known how City employees have been treated by their carrier. Write letters / write emails / call them and pester them on why they have this provider and how they feel about Dennis and so many others being denied. Of course, you will get the standard - I can't talk about it / it's a personnel issue / I can't, it won't, it can't, and all the other excuses one can imagine; but just remember...it was the Council that chose this provider. It is the Council that can change providers. They are the only ones that can.
Christian Fetter March 07, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Ultimately who does the decision to cover his expenses lie on?
George Muteff March 07, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Well Christian, thanks for the lob. This is pretty black and white, best I can tell. The answer to your question, with all the clutter wiped away, is simple: this lays squarely in the lap of the City's Council. They are the ones that determine who the provider is and will be. Look at it as just another outsource. Suppose you hired a contractor to build a home. The contractor subs out the plumbing. The house is built and you move in. Happy days! Then, after working hard to move in, you decide to take a shower. You step into the tub, turn on the water, and every water line in the house explodes. Who are you going to call? the sub, or the contractor (just before your lawyer)? The City Council makes the call on who they choose as their provider.
Christian Fetter March 14, 2013 at 04:15 AM
I'm sort of new to this whole situation, I don't know how I even just recently found out about this, but what is the overall situation right now? Can he still get covered? Has he been covered? Can we really do things to help him get covered or just fundraisers?
Elizabeth V. March 14, 2013 at 11:10 PM
First, We "HMB Townies" are not "Peons"... Your ignorant to say so. And we are not clueless. Many of us Know Dennis very well and on a friendship level, you obviously did not know him that well. Dennis has been a beloved Cop in our town for a very long time! It is so very inappropriate to post anything other than condolences and support at this time. If you have other things to say then you should been directing your opinions elsewhere! I have grown up in HMB my entire life and Dennis has always been kind and thoughtful. He earned the respect of so many people in town as a good Cop and a good Human Being!!! I was in 7th grade when I met Dennis, I have seen him in uniform around town and hanging out with his family out at dinners, in the local gym, coffee shops, you name it.... and myself, ALL my friends, my mom, my sister, my dad have never felt that he flirted with underage girls or made anyone uncomfortable! Everybody adored Dennis and felt safe having him work in our town. All the teenagers (girls and guys alike) liked Dennis because he seemed to understand that kids were kids and he dealt with us better than most other adults in our lives... Maybe you just saw him being friendly to those people that were friendly to him. I highly doubt any girl ever felt uncomfortable around Dennis... He is a stand up guy and does not deserve your accusations that you cant even support with evidence! Maybe your the sleezeball, and dirtball !!!

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