Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hearing officer's applying an incorrect standard in making his or her determination requires the remanding of the matter for a new hearing


Hearing officer's applying an incorrect standard in making his or her determination requires the remanding of the matter for a new hearing
McGowan v New York State & Local Police & Fire Retirement Sys., 2017 NY Slip Op 01751, Appellate Division, Third Department

James K. McGowanworked as a police officer for the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. In 2010, he applied for accidental disability retirement benefits, alleging that he was permanently incapacitated from performing his job duties as the result of a work-related motor vehicle accident that occurred in 2005. His application was denied upon the ground that he was not permanently incapacitated from performing his duties as a police officer, and McGowan requested a hearing and redetermination.

The Hearing Officer upheld the denial, finding that McGowan had failed to meet his burden of establishing that he was permanently incapacitated from performing his job duties and that the initial determination was supported by substantial evidence.

The Appellate Division overturned the Comptroller's adoption of the Hearing Officer's determination. The court ruled that the Hearing Officer misstated and applied the incorrect legal standard in rendering her decision.

The Hearing Officer, said the court, improperly analyzed whether the initial determination was supported by substantial evidence, "rather than undertaking a redetermination and exercising the same powers upon such hearing as upon the original application."

As the Comptroller failed to recognize this error of law prior to adopting the Hearing Officer's decision, the Appellate Division ruled that the Comptroller's the determination must be annulled and the matter remitted to the Comptroller for a new hearing.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2017/2017_01751.htm

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