December 21, 2010

Absence of the name of an individual on a list of members as required by law deemed evidence that the individual is not a member of the organization

Absence of the name of an individual on a list of members as required by law deemed evidence that the individual is not a member of the organization
Murphy v Town of Ramapo, 2010 NY Slip Op 09233, Decided on December 14, 2010, Appellate Division, Second Department

Dennis Murphy, Jr., then a 16-year-old member of the "youth corps" of the Ramapo Valley Ambulance Corp. Inc., sued Ramapo to recover for personal injuries he suffered as a result of his being injured when a pen thrown by a member of Ramapo struck him in the eye while he was on Ramapo's premises.

Ramapo’s motion for summary judgment dismissing Murphy’s action on the grounds that it was barred by the exclusivity provision of the Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Law §19 was denied by Supreme Court.*

The Appellate Division agreed with the Supreme Court's result, but for a different reason.

Essentially the Appellate Division ruled that Ramapo failed to show that Murphy within the statutory definition of “a volunteer ambulance worker” and thus he was not barred from suing by reason of the statutory "exclusivity provision" set out in §19. Why? Because Murphy's name was not on the list of Ramapo's members.

The court pointed out that §3[1] of the Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Law defines a "[v]olunteer ambulance worker" as ‘an active volunteer member of an ambulance company as specified on a list regularly maintained by that company for the purpose of this chapter’."

Ramapo, said the court, did not submit proof that Murphy was on such a list and thus failed to meet its burden of showing that the provisions of Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Law §19 controlled insofar as Murphy’s maintaining his action against Ramapo was concerned.

N.B. "Being listed" is critical in public employment situations as well. For example, the status of an individual appointed to a position in the classified service of the State as an employer or a political subdivision of the State is determined by records of the responsible civil service commission notwithstanding the belief or intent of the appointing officer concerned making the appointment.

* §19 of the Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Law §19 provides, in pertinent part, that "the benefits provided by this chapter shall be the exclusive remedy of a volunteer ambulance worker … otherwise entitled to recover damages, at common law or otherwise, for or on account of an injury … resulting from an injury to a volunteer ambulance worker in line of duty."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_09233.htm

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