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Police union sues city for not paying officer's medical bills

The police union filed a lawsuit Friday to force the city to pay the medical bills of an officer who got sick working at ground zero after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said in court papers that Christopher Hynes, 36, worked more than 100 hours in the recovery and cleanup of the World Trade Center after the attacks without being issued proper protective respiratory gear.

The PBA's court papers argue the city's administrative code makes the city responsible for all medical expenses incurred by any police officer who is injured or becomes ill in the line of duty.

The papers filed in Manhattan's state Supreme Court say Hynes was exposed to and inhaled more than 400 lethal toxins, including benzene, asbestos, mercury and PCBs, as well as glass shards and pulverized concrete.

In March 2004, Hynes was diagnosed with sarcoidosis and Lofgren's syndrome, a form of sarcoidosis. He is now on restricted duty and has been sued for $5,000 for bills related to his medical treatment, the PBA says.

Sarcoidosis is an inflammation that produces tiny clumps of cells in various organs that can affect their functioning.

The Police Department's medical division has denied Hynes the line-of-duty illness designation three times, indicating they believe there is no medical or scientific link between his illness and his presence at ground zero, the PBA says.

New York City firefighters with Sept. 11-related sarcoidosis are routinely granted line-of-duty status and the city pays all their medical bills, the PBA says.

The Police Department's spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said he had no comment on the lawsuit.