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Wednesday

Disciplinary charges filed against employee for alleged negligent operation of an agency motor vehicle

Disciplinary charges filed against employee for alleged negligent operation of an agency motor vehicle
Taxi & Limousine Commission v Alvarez, OATH Index # 924/11

OATH Administrative Law Judge Alessandra Zorgniotti found that a Taxi & Limousine Commission inspector, Rafael Alvarez, negligently operated a City car when he failed to yield the right-of-way and collided with another car.

Specifically, Alvarez was charged with failing to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle and colliding with the other vehicle in violation of Agency Rules 35 (reasonable care of agency vehicles) and 36 (compliance with laws and rules relating to use of agency vehicles).

The ALJ noted that “The fact that [Alvarez] may be negligent as a matter of law in a tort action does not automatically demonstrate that he is guilty of misconduct in a disciplinary proceeding. Some unavoidable driving accidents may not be misconduct.”

As to “unavoidable driving accidents,” Judge Zorgniotti commented that “However, TLC inspectors are required to exercise “reasonable care” when driving a city vehicle, to follow the [State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law], and to prevent accidents.” The City Vehicle Driver Handbook provides in relevant part:

Preventable Accidents. An accident that is not deemed chargeable by the police may still be assessed as preventable by the agency’s Accident Review Committee. The committee shall recommend appropriate disciplinary action to be taken in connection with the violation of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws and the Agency’s Code of Conduct. Preventable accidents may subject the driver to agency disciplinary proceedings if agency rules have been violated. Preventable accidents may occur because the driver:

• Violated NYS Motor Vehicle Law, regardless of whether the police issued a summons;

• Operated the vehicle inattentively, including failure to exercise defensive driving skills;

Finding that Alvarez “failed to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle and collided with the other vehicle in violation of Agency Rules 35 and 36,” Judge Zorgniotti recommended that Alvarez be suspended without pay for twenty-work day.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://archive.citylaw.org/oath/11_Cases/11-924.pdf
.