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August 11, 2017

Hearing Officer is entitled to weigh the evidence in making his or her decision when the parties' present conflicting medical evidence


Hearing Officer is entitled to weigh the evidence in making his or her decision when the parties' present conflicting medical evidence 
2017 NY Slip Op 02270, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

A  police officer [Petitioner], filed a CPLR Article 78 petition seeking to annul the determination of the Hearing Officer that he was medically qualified to perform his light duty assignment and thus not entitled be continued on  General Municipal Law §207-c leave.

Petitioner was receiving benefits pursuant to §207-c as a result of prior on-duty injuries. Returning to work in a light-duty capacity, Petitioner twisted his ankle while at work and allegedly exacerbated his prior injuries.

Following a hearing, the Hearing Officer determined that Petitioner was able to perform his light-duty assignment notwithstanding the injury to his ankle and thus Petitioner was not totally disabled. Accordingly, the employer discontinued Petitioner's §207-c leave status.

The Appellate Division said it agreed with Petitioner's employer that the Hearing Officer's determination that Petitioner could continue to perform the light duties to which he was assigned was supported by substantial evidence.

The court said that although Petitioner presented evidence suggesting that he was not able to work at all, "the Hearing Officer instead credited other evidence that Petitioner could perform a light-duty assignment" and unanimously dismissed the petition.

In the words of the Appellate Division, "[t]he Hearing Officer was entitled to weigh the parties' conflicting medical evidence" and a court "may not weigh the evidence or reject [the Hearing Officer's] choice where the evidence is conflicting and room for a choice exists."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2017/2017_02270.htm

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