Widow of police officer alleges District 5 HQ caused husband's cancer

Lawsuit alleges 'toxic and hazardous' conditions

CINCINNATI -- The widow of a District 5 police officer blames the building where her husband worked for his lung cancer and death in a lawsuit she filed against the city this month.

Specialist Robert McGuire died of complications from lung cancer on Jan. 15, 2015, according to the complaint filed by his widow, Paula Hammer-McGuire. He was 51.

McGuire joined the Cincinnati Police Department in 2003 and worked for several years in District 5, where he was exposed to "toxic and hazardous substances at District 5 headquarters," according to Hammer-McGuire's lawsuit. The city "deliberately misrepresented the nature" of the substances in the building, the lawsuit alleges.

McGuire then contracted lung cancer "as a direct and proximate result of the exposure" to the conditions at D5 HQ, according to the lawsuit.

Some District 5 employees have recently complained about conditions at D5 headquarters, reporting issues like bugs, mold and asbestos. One sign posted during a tour for council members in December stated that 13 people "got cancer" there.

Tests for mold, radon and asbestos the city had done found the air quality in the building "typical for commercial buildings," according to a memo from City Manager Harry Black.

However, city councilmembers have indicated a desire to improve conditions there. During a Law and Public Safety Committee meeting Monday, members agreed to have all employees moved out of D5 headquarters by May 1, though Black said It may take up to two years to have a permanent solution in place. As a temporary solution, some employees may be temporarily reassigned to other police districts.

In the lawsuit, Hammer-McGuire accuses the city of workplace intentional tort and denial of substantive due process, and seeks more than $25,000. The case has been moved from a Hamilton County court to U.S. District Court.

The city had not yet filed a response to the lawsuit and generally does not comment on active litigation.

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