ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS NOT USED, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, IN THE SUMMARIES OF JUDICIAL AND QUASI-JUDICIAL DECISIONS PREPARED BY NYPPL

December 27, 2010

Overturning disability retirement decisions

Overturning disability retirement decisions
Guidal v Trustees of the NYC Fire Department Article 1-B Fund, 275 AD2d 458

The Guidal decision by the Appellate Division demonstrates the difficult test that a claimant faces in attempting to have a court overturn a decision by the trustees of a pension fund denying his or her application for accidental disability retirement benefits.

William Guidal, a New York City firefighter, applied for accidental disability retirement benefits. The Trustees, by a tie vote, disapproved his application for accidental retirement benefits but approved him for ordinary disability retirement benefits.

Guidal’s appeal was rejected by the Appellate Division. The court observed that:

Where the Board of Trustees of the New York City Fire Department, Article 1-B Pension Fund ... denies an application for accidental disability benefits as a consequence of a tie vote, the Board’s determination can be set aside on judicial review only if it can be concluded as a matter of law that the petitioner’s disability was the natural and proximate result of a service-related injury.

The test applied in such cases by the courts: the courts may intervene only where it finds that circumstances allow but one inference with respect to the cause of the disability. In such situations the court may determine the conclusion to be drawn from the inference under the circumstances. In other words, it may decide whether or not the Trustee’s inference and conclusion was correct.

In contrast, where there is a difference of expert medical opinion as to the cause of the disability, the Trustees’ determination must be sustained if supported by substantial evidence.

Accordingly, if there is any credible evidence that the disability was not caused by service-related injuries supporting the Trustee’s determination, that determination must stand.*

In Guidal’s situation, said the court, Guidal failed to establish, as a matter of law, a causal connection between his line-of-duty accidents and his disabling condition since the medical evidence permitted more than one inference to be drawn as to the cause of his disabling condition.

Applying the single inference test, the Appellate Division held that there was no basis to disturb the Trustee’s decision.

* The State Comptroller is the sole trustee of the New York State Employees’ Retirement System. Presumably the same analysis would be applied in cases where his determination concerning approving an application for accidental or duty-related disability benefits is at issue.

CAUTION

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. AGAIN, CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE, OR CORRESPONDENCE CONCERNING SUCH MATERIAL, DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.
New York Public Personnel Law Blog Editor Harvey Randall served as Principal Attorney, New York State Department of Civil Service; Director of Personnel, SUNY Central Administration; Director of Research, Governor’s Office of Employee Relations; and Staff Judge Advocate General, New York Guard. Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material posted to this blog is presented with the understanding that neither the publisher nor NYPPL and, or, its staff and contributors are providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader is urged to seek such advice from a knowledgeable professional.
New York Public Personnel Law. Email: publications@nycap.rr.com