Thursday, August 18, 2011

Establishing a right to General Municipal Law Section 207-c benefits


Establishing a right to General Municipal Law Section 207-c benefits
White v County of Cortland, 283 AD2d 826, affirmed, 97 NY2d 336

In the White case the Appellate Division, Third Department, set out a basic principal it follows in determining if an individual is eligible for disability benefits under General Municipal Law Section 207-c as follows: Section 207-c is a remedial statute and thus is to be liberally construed in favor of the claimant.

The facts underlying this disability claim case are relatively straightforward.

Herbert I. White suffered a heart attack prior to his being hired as a full-time correction officer by Cortland County in 1989. He performed his duties without incident until June 18, 1995, when he suffered a work-related heart attack. He was disabled from performing his job duties until October 21, 1995. White returned to work but on June 13, 1996, he experienced chest pains and shortness of breath. His request for medical leave was approved. Unable to work, he has been continued on such leave through the present time.

The Section 207-a Hearing Officer determined that “although [White's] condition is work related, it is not causally related [to his employment] 'to a substantial degree'” Cortland adopted the hearing officer's findings and refused to pay White Section 207-c benefits with respect to his absence after June 13, 1996.

A State Supreme Court determined that Cortland decision was “an error of law” and annulled it insofar as it denied White's application for Section 207-c benefits since June 13, 1996.

The Appellate Division affirmed the lower courts ruling, holding that “Section 207-c is a remedial statute intended to benefit law enforcement personnel disabled by a work-related illness or injury and, as such, should be liberally construed in their favor.”

The court said that “[t]he language of the statute and precedent from this Court require only that the claimant prove disability and a causal relationship between the disability and the claimant's job duties.”

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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