April 02, 2020

Judicial review of a board's administrative decision flowing from a tie vote

In this proceeding pursuant to CPLR Article 78, an applicant [Petitioner] for accidental disability retirement benefits sought judicial review of a determination of the Board of Trustees of the New York City Fire Department Article 1-B Pension Fund [Board] where the Board’s decision denying Petitioner’s application  for accidental disability benefits was the result of a tie vote.

The Appellate Divisions sustained the Board's decision, citing Canfora v Board of Trustees of Police Pension Fund of Police Dept. of City of N.Y., Art. II, 60 NY2d 347.* The court explained that under the circumstances the Board “must retire the applicant on an ordinary disability pension, and the determination of the Board … can be set aside on judicial review only if it can be concluded as a matter of law that the Petitioner's disability was the natural and proximate result of a service-related accident."

The court’s opinion notes that the applicant has the burden of establishing that, as a matter of law, a causal relationship exists between the claimed service-related accident and the claimed disability. As long as there was any credible evidence of lack of causation before the Board, its determination must be sustained.

As the Appellate Division determined that [1] Petitioner failed to demonstrate a “casual relationship” between the alleged service-related accident and the claimed disability and [2] there was credible evidence before the Board that Petitioner's injury was not caused by the alleged accident, it concluded that the Board’s determination should not be disturbed.

* See, also, Meyer v Board of Trustees of N.Y. City Fire Dept., Art. 1-B Pension Fund, 90 NY2d 139.


The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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