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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hearing officer free to credit the testimony of one medical expert over another’s when there are conflicting medical opinions in evidence


Hearing officer free to credit the testimony of one medical expert over another’s when there are conflicting medical opinions in evidence
2013 NY Slip Op 07040, Appellate Division, Second Department

An employee of the City of Mount Vernon Fire Department [Employee], alleging that the had sustained an on-the-job injury, was provided with benefits pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-a(1) based on this incident. §207-a(1) provides for the payment of salary, medical and hospital expenses of firefighters suffering injuries or illness incurred in performance of duties.

Employee subsequently applied for supplemental income benefits pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-a(2). Essentially §207-a(2) provides the payment of the difference between the amounts of his or her retirement allowance and the amount of his regular salary or wages, including negotiated salary increases, if any, until his or her mandatory service retirement age to a firefighter who is permanently disabled as a result of an injury or sickness incurred or resulting from the performance of his or her if he or she is granted an accidental disability retirement allowance or a or similar accidental disability benefit provided by the pension fund of which he is a member;

The City of Mount Vernon [Mount Vernon] denied the application. Employee appealed the denial of his application and requested a hearing.

The hearing officer credited the testimony of the City's medical expert, who opined that Employee was not fully disabled because the expert believed Employee could still perform restricted duties and The City denied Employee any benefits available pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-a(2).

The Appellate Division dismissed Employee’s challenge to Mt. Vernon’s decision, explaining that judicial review of an administrative determination made after a hearing required by law at which evidence is taken is limited to whether the determination is supported by substantial evidence. Here, said the court. the hearing officer's determination is supported by substantial evidence.

The court noted that the testimony of Mount Vernon’s medical expert was consistent and supported by the medical evidence, and that the hearing officer was free to credit the testimony and report of that expert over any conflicting doctors' opinions contained in the Employee's medical records.

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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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/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances 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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