Friday, July 06, 2012

An administrative decision made in violation of lawful procedure, affected by an error of law, that is arbitrary and capricious or that is an abuse of discretion is fatally defective


An administrative decision made in violation of lawful procedure, affected by an error of law, that is arbitrary and capricious or that is an abuse of discretion is fatally defective
Malverne Volunteer Fire Dept. v New York State Off. of Fire Prevention & Control, 2012 NY Slip Op 05174, Appellate Division, Second Department

The New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial Appeals Committee denied a request to include former Malverne Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Paul Ryan Brady's name on the New York State Fallen Firefighters' Memorial Wall. Malverne appealed, contending that the Committee’s decision was not made after a quasi-judicial hearing it claimed was required by the Committee’s procedures.

Although Supreme Court dismissed Malverne’s petition, the Appellate Division “reversed, on the law” and remanded the matter to Supreme Court “to direct the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial Appeals Committee to include Paul Ryan Brady's name on the New York State Fallen Firefighters' Memorial Wall.”

The Appellate Division explained that in this instance it must consider whether the Committee’s determination was made in violation of lawful procedure, was affected by an error of law or was arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion.

The test applied in such cases: “did the action taken by the agency have a rational basis." Citing Matter of Wooley v New York State Dept. of Correctional Servs., 15 NY3d 275, the Appellate Division said that a court will overturn such action only "where it is taken without sound basis in reason' or regard to the facts'" or where it is "arbitrary and capricious."

In this instance, said the court, the determination of the Committee that the death of firefighter Brady was not a "line of duty death" within the selection criteria for inclusion on the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial Wall was arbitrary and capricious and did not have a rational basis in the record.

Indeed, said the court, “The record demonstrates that, under the applicable selection criteria, Paul Ryan Brady died while engaged in an action that was required, authorized or recognized by law, rule, regulation, [or] condition of employment.’"

Accordingly, the Appellate Division ruled that Supreme Court should have [1] granted Malverne’s petition, [2] annulled the Committee’s determination and [3] directed the appeals committee to include Brady's name on the New York State Fallen Firefighters' Memorial Wall

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2012/2012_05174.htm

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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