December 06, 2010

Appointing authority’s threat to take action against an employee that is otherwise lawful to attain a desired result does not constitute duress

Appointing authority’s threat to take action against an employee that is otherwise lawful to attain a desired result does not constitute duress
Matter of Buric v Kelly, 2010 NY Slip Op 08786, Decided on November 30, 2010, Appellate Division, First Department

John Buric challenged the Police Commissioner’s determination that he be retired with ordinary disability retirement benefits.

Essentially Buric complained that his decision to file for a service retirement was involuntary and the result of fraud, duress, coercion, or other misconduct by New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Supreme Court rejected Buric’s claim that he was told that “he had to make an immediate decision with respect to his pension election, that he could not indicate on his election letter that his decision was made under duress, or that it would be futile to consult an attorney prior to making such an election.”

In affirming the lower court’s decision the Appellate Division observed that Supreme Court’s “findings of fact, based in large measure on its assessment of the credibility of the witnesses,” were supported by a fair interpretation of the record evidence.

Addressing Buric allegations that “he was given two unpalatable choices,* or that he chose the service retirement due to financial considerations,” the Appellate Division said that neither constituted duress, citing two decisions; Wolfe v Jurczynski, 241 AD2d 88, and Matter of Donato v Mills, 6 AD3d 966.

*
In Rychlick v Coughlin, 63 NY2d 643, the Court of Appeals ruled that an appointing authority’s threat to undertake certain action that it otherwise had the legal right to take did not constitute duress.

The decision is posted on the Internet at: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_08786.htm
NYPPL

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