General Municipal Law Section 207-c disability benefits forfeited following a change of residence
Kevin O'Connor Et Al., v Police Commission Of The Town Of Clarkstown et al, 221 AD2d 444
Kevin O'Connor, a Town of Clarkstown police officer, was terminated from his position by the Police Commission pursuant to 30.1.d of the Public Officers Law because he "ceased to be an inhabitant within the geographical restrictions" set by law. Section 30.1.d provides that the public office "shall be vacant" if the officer does not live in the appropriate geographical area.* Clarkstown also discontinued paying O’Connor disability benefits pursuant to 207-c of the General Municipal Law following a work-related injury at the time he moved to Warren County.
O'Connor had moved to Warren County. Clarkstown is in Rockland County. Warren and Rockland Counties are not contiguous.
Significantly, the Appellate Division ruled that "the fact that O'Connor was disabled and entitled to the benefits of General Municipal Law Section 207-c(1) does not render Public Officers Law Section 30 inapplicable." Further, O’Connor could not cure this difficulty by returning and again becoming a resident of Rockland County or to a county contiguous to Rockland County.
The Appellate Division said that there was ample evidence to support the determination that O'Connor had ceased to be an inhabitant of the geographical area required for members of the Clarkstown Police Department. Accordingly, the Town’s decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious.
The Appellate Division also rejected O'Connor's claim that he satisfied Section 3.2's residence requirement because he "occasionally stayed" at an in-laws apartment that was within the geographical area."
* Section 3.2 of the Public Officers Law permits a police officer to reside in the same or a contiguous county in which the political subdivision employing the officer is located. Subdivision 19 of Section 3.2 sets out residence provisions applicable to police officers of the City of New York.
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 is available from the Public Employment Law Press. Click on http://section207.blogspot.com/ for further information about this electronic handbook.
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