A deputy sheriff [Deputy] was injured in a work-related motor vehicle accident and while on leave for his injuries, began receiving pay and benefits pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-c. Deputy was subsequently notified by the County that his benefits were being terminated because a form provided by one of the Deputy's physicians indicated that Deputy was able to return to a modified work position and was simultaneously offered a light-duty assignment by the Sheriff's Office. Deputy was also advised that his declining the light duty assignment "may affect continuation of his General Municipal Law §207-c benefits."
Deputy declined the light duty assignment offer, citing his injuries, and requested a hearing as provided for in the applicable collective bargaining agreement. The Hearing Officer issued a report finding, among other things, that Deputy's benefits had been improperly terminated and recommended that they be reinstated retroactively. The Sheriff [Respondent] rejected the Hearing Officer's findings and recommendation, without providing any explanation or findings in support of the determination.
Deputy filed an action pursuant to CPLR Article 78 seeking, among other things, a court order annulling the Sheriff's determination. As the petition raised a question of substantial evidence, Supreme Court transferred the matter to the Appellate Division for further consideration.
Noting that the Hearing Officer had made findings of fact and concluded that Respondent had committed multiple procedural errors in terminating Deputy's benefits and that the Sheriff, in rejecting the Hearing Officer's recommendation, had not provided any explanation or factual findings, the Appellate Division commented that "Administrative findings of fact must be made in such a manner that the parties may be assured that the decision is based on the evidence in the record, uninfluenced by extralegal considerations, so as to permit intelligent challenge by an aggrieved party and adequate judicial review."
Explaining that it could not conduct a meaningful judicial review in view of the Sheriff's failure to make any findings or otherwise specify any basis for the apparent continued termination of Deputy's General Municipal Law §207-c benefits, the Appellate Division annulled the Sheriff's determination and returned the matter to the Sheriff "to address the procedural issues and develop appropriate factual findings."
Citing Simpson v Wolansky, 38 NY2d 391, the court opined that "the issue is not whether the Hearing Officer's report and recommendation is supported by substantial evidence; rather, the issue is whether the Sheriff's determination is supported by substantial evidence."
The decision is posted on the Internet at:
Disability Benefits for fire, police and other public sector personnel - Addresses 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