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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Workers’ Compensation Board’s finding that the injured volunteer firefighter’s condition had not changed mandates the continuation of the benefits being provided pursuant to the Volunteer Firefighters’ Benefit Law


Workers’ Compensation Board’s finding that the injured volunteer firefighter’s condition had not changed mandates the continuation of the benefits being provided pursuant to the Volunteer Firefighters’ Benefit Law
Giudi v New Paltz Fire Dept., 2012 NY Slip Op 08621, Appellate Division, Third Department

The genesis of this appeal was volunteer firefighter Jason Giudi's claim that he had suffered a head injury in the line of duty that adversely affected his ability to continue to work in his job in his regular capacity which resulted in a reduction in his income.

The Workers' Compensation Board ultimately found that the Giudi was permanently disabled and had been deprived of more than 75% of his earning capacity. Accordingly, the Board awarded Guidi benefits pursuant to Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law §10(1).*

Several years later the case was reopened by the Workers’ Compensation Board to address the New Paltz Fire Department's contention that Giudi 's condition had changed within the meaning of Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law §13** and thus Giudi’s entitlement to benefits should be reconsidered.

The Board sustained its earlier determination that Giudi was, and continued to be, permanently disabled. The Fire Department then challenged the Board’s decision but the Appellate Division dismissed its appeal.

Noting that substantial evidence supports the Board's finding that Giudi "remains unable to continue performing either the employment duties usually and ordinarily performed at the time of injury or those required by a reasonable substitute,” the Appellate Division affirmed the Board’s decision.

According to the ruling, Giudi testified that his work as a chef required substantial amounts of education and training and he has been forced to perform less mentally demanding work since his injury.

Noting that a clinical neuropsychologist who examined Giudi had opined that Giudi's “cognitive impairments continued to prevent him from working as a chef or military police officer,” the court said that the Board was free to credit this evidence --  “which provided ample justification for its finding that [Giudi] continues to suffer from a disability that deprives him of more than 75% of his earning capacity.”

* §10 of the Volunteer Firefighters Benefit Law provides for the payment of benefits in the event a volunteer firefighter suffers a permanent partial disability benefits as a result of his or her suffering an injury in the line of duty.

** §13 of the Volunteer Firefighters Benefit Law provides for the reclassification of a disability upon proof that there has been a change in the claimant’s condition

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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General Municipal Law§§ 207-a and 207-c - a 1098 page e-book focusing on administering General Municipal Law Sections 207-a/207-c and providing benefits thereunder and other disability retirement issues is available from the Public Employment Law Press. Click on http://section207.blogspot.com/ for additional information about this electronic reference manual.


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Electronic books [e-books] focusing on New York State and Municipal Public Personnel Law:

The Discipline Book, - a concise guide to disciplinary actions involving public employees in New York State. A 1900+ page e-book. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/5215.html

The Layoff, Preferred List and Reinstatement Manual - a 645 page e-book reviewing the relevant laws, rules and regulations, and selected court and administrative decisions. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/5216.html

A Reasonable Disciplinary Penalty Under the Circumstances - A 600+ page guide to penalties imposed on public employees in New York State found guilty of selected acts of misconduct. For more information, click on http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com/

General Municipal Law§§ 207-a and 207-c - Disability Leave for fire, police and other public sector personnel - a 1098 page e-book focusing on administering General Municipal Law Sections 207-a/207-c and providing benefits thereunder. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/3916.html

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