Thursday, August 16, 2012

Off-duty police officer not acting in the performance of his or her duties at the time of his or her injury not eligible for General Municipal Law §207-c benefits


Off-duty police officer not acting in the performance of his or her duties at the time of his or her injury not eligible for General Municipal Law §207-c benefits
Martin v Clarkstown, 2012 NY Slip Op 51482(U), Supreme Court, Rockland County [Not selected for publications in the Official Reports]

Daniel Martin, a Clarkstown police officer, was injured in the line of duty and was approved for certain benefits pursuant to General Municipal Law Section §207-c.

Section §207-c provides, in relevant part, that “Any . . . member of a police force of any county, city of less than one million population, town or village … so as to necessitate medical or other lawful remedial treatment shall be paid by the municipality by which he is employed the full amount of his regular salary or wages until his disability arising therefrom has ceased, and, in addition such municipality shall be liable for all medical treatment and hospital care necessitated by reason of such injury or illness….”

Martin returned to work after recovering from the injury. He, however, later suffered a second injury that prevented him from performing the duties of his position. This injury occurred at his home while Martin was off-duty. Martin contended that his second injury was the result of his having suffered his earlier job-related injury.

When his request for §207-c benefits in consideration of this second injury was denied by the Department, Martin filed an Article 78 petition challenging the Department’s decision. In support of his petition, he submitted a number of documents from physicians indicating his second injury was related to the first injury to Supreme Court.

Martin contended that “because the second injury was related to the first injury, he should have received benefits pursuant to §207-c.” Essentially Martin argued that his second injury was a "reoccurrence of his acknowledged GML §207-c injury."

Clarkstown disagreed, arguing that §207-c benefits are not available with respect to injuries suffered by an off-duty police officer who was not acting in the performance of his or her duties at the time of his or her injury.

Supreme Court rejected Martin’s petition, holding that it was well settled that in order to demonstrate entitlement to §207-c a claimant must prove a direct causal relationship between his or her job duties and the resulting illness or injury, citing Brunner v. Bertoni, 91 AD3d 1100. In Brunner the Appellate Division said §207-c benefits were not available to an individual if his or her performing the duties of the position were not a direct cause of the injury or disease.

Sustaining the Department’s administrative determination, Supreme Court ruled that because Martin had not suffer his second injury while he was engaged in “the performance of his duties" he was not entitled to §207-c benefits. Further, the court found that the Department’s determination with respect to Martin’s second injury had a rational basis and was neither arbitrary nor capricious.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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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 and other disability retirement issues is available from the Public Employment Law Press. Click on http://section207.blogspot.com/ for additional information about this electronic reference manual.

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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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