Pulse first responder still not receiving family medical benefits

Gerry Realin vs. city of Orlando going to trial

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - An Orange County judge on Friday ordered a trial without jury to resolve a three-year medical benefits fight between former Orlando police Officer Gerry Realin and the City of Orlando.

The case involves Realin’s pension awarded without medical coverage for his family three years ago after he was diagnosed with PTSD following his assignment to remove the dead from Pulse nightclub.

Realin’s wife, Jessica Realin, told News 6 that the family medical benefits cost “one-third” of the total pension benefits, roughly $1,700 a month or $23,000 a year, more than five times the amount he paid before he left the department.

“Five plus doctors chosen by the city, Judge Neal Pitts, the Pension Board, the city’s life insurance company (Standard Life) and the United States Department of Education have already stated and accepted Gerry’s condition,” she said.

[PREVIOUS COVERAGE: First responder diagnosed with PTSD fights job assignmentOrlando pension board grants officer with PTSD early retirement, pension]

Friday’s status hearing, before Judge Patricia Strowbridge lasted about five minutes. 

Lakeland attorney Jeff Appel, who represents Gerry Realin in the case, said this is a small part of several layers against the city, including a workers compensation case, a civil case seeking $1 million in damages for alleged retaliation by the city and the unpaid health insurance case.

“We’re looking forward to moving the case along as the court requested,” Appel said. “We’re going to do whatever is required to protect Gerry’s interest.”

During the hearing, Strowbridge indicated her first available court date would be in October.

The judge will send several dates to both sides to determine when the trial will be held.

Originally, the city had requested a jury trial but Attorney Marc Sugarman on Friday agreed to trial by
judge.

According to Appel, the city has argued that Realin does not meet the medical standard for catastrophic injury.

"The city of Orlando and the Orlando Police Department are committed to the health and well being of our first responders, who bravely protect our community every day," a city spokesperson said in a statement to News 6. "Mr. Realin is receiving all benefits for which he is eligible."

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