Gov. Hochul Signs TWU’s Diesel/Cancer Legislation

Anthony and Dorota Nigro in happier times.
Anthony and Dorota Nigro in happier times.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed into law a landmark bill – championed by TWU Local 100 and the TWU Local 100 Retirees Association   – that would allow a family to file for death benefits through Workers Compensation for a diesel exhaust related illness.
The bill especially impacts the families of retirees, who for years have filed for death benefits due to diesel exposure through Workers Compensation only to be routinely rejected. That all changed in 2014, when Dorota Nigro, with the help of the union, won a breakthrough lawsuit for Workers Compensation benefits after her husband, Anthony Nigro, a MaBSTOA Bus Maintainer, died of lung cancer a few months after he retired in 2012.  
This legislation recognizes the causal effects of diesel exhaust in cancer and lung related illnesses.  It allows families whose claims were rejected in past years to refile for benefits, and of course, it provides an easier path for claims in the future.
Local 100 President Tony Utano said: “This is an important bill that we have been fighting for the past few sessions in the Albany.  I’m happy that we were finally able to bring it across the finish line for those transit families who will ultimately benefit from this victory.”
Brother Anthony Nigro had worked for 28 years as a Maintainer at MTA facilities.  He was working at Quill Depot when he retired. The family’s oncologist told Brother Nigro’s widow, Dorota Nigro, that he believed diesel exposure over many years was a cause of the cancer.
Attorney Robert Grey, of Grey & Grey, LLP, filed a victorious claim on behalf of the Nigro family with the Workers Compensation Board.  That lawsuit in 2014 set the stage for the union’s legislative fight in Albany. “In a legal sense, someone had to be the first to climb Mt. Everest in litigation on diesel exhaust,” said Grey. “Hopefully, this is our Mt. Everest, and the path for other claimants who have been harmed by diesel exposure is less difficult.” 
Now, thanks to the union’s legislative victory, a grieving family will be able to seek financial justice for the loss of their loved one. The bill, sponsored in the NYS Senate by James Sanders (D-Queens), and in the Assembly by Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Brooklyn), is named for Brother Nigro.