Judicial review of determinations made after a hearing denying a police officer's application for General Municipal Law §207-c disability benefits
Campo v City of Mount Vernon, 2017 NY Slip Op 08663, 2017 NY Slip Op 08663
The City of Mount Vernon Commissioner of Police, after a hearing, denied John Campo's application for disability benefits available to injured law enforcement personnel injured in the performance of law enforcement duties pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-c. Campo appealed the Commissioner's determination.
The Appellate Division dismissed Campo's appeal "on the merits, with costs," explaining that judicial review of an administrative determination that is made after a hearing at which evidence is taken pursuant to direction of law is limited to a consideration of whether that determination was supported by substantial evidence upon the whole record.
Here, said the court, the Commissioner's decision was supported by substantial evidence in the record.
Workers' compensation benefits are intended to be dispensed regardless of fault for any injury arising out of and in the course of one's employment. In contrast, in Matter of Diegelman v City of Buffalo, 28 NY3d 231, the Court of Appeals held that General Municipal Law §207-c benefits apply to a narrower class of work-related injury, relative to the performance of law enforcement duties.
To be entitled to General Municipal Law §207-c benefits, a covered municipal employee must prove a direct causal relationship between job duties and the resulting illness or injury and Campo failed to prove that such a relationship existed here. *
When there is conflicting evidence or different inferences may be drawn, the duty of weighing the evidence and making the choice rests solely upon the administrative agency. Further, credibility determinations as to the testimony of the parties' respective medical witnesses, including their qualifications and the weight to be given their testimony, are matters within the sole province of the administrative fact finder and courts may not weigh the evidence or reject the choice made by the agency where the evidence is conflicting and room for choice exists.
In this action the hearing officer credited the testimony of the City's medical expert as to causation, and there is no basis to disturb that determination.
* Courts typically apply the same guidelines in the course of considering appeals challenging the denial of an application for General Municipal Law §207-a disability benefits submitted by a firefighter.
The decision is posted on the Internet at:
Disability Benefits for fire, police and other public sector personnel - an e-book focusing on retirement for disability under the NYS Employees' Retirement System, the NYS Teachers' Retirement System, General Municipal Law Sections 207-a/207-c and similar statutes providing benefits to employees injured both "on-the-job" and "off-the-job." For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/3916.html