April 19, 2021

The Medical Board's recommendation that an application for performance of duty disability retirement benefits be denied is conclusive if it is supported by some credible evidence and is not arbitrary or capricious

Supreme Court annulled a determination by the Board of Trustees of the New York City Employees' Retirement System [Trustees] denying the application of a retired New York City correction officer, [Petitioner] for performance of duty disability retirement benefits based on its Medical Board's recommendation and directed that the Petitioner be granted performance of duty disability retirement benefits retroactive to March 11, 2016.

The Appellate Division reversed the Supreme Court's ruling, on the law, with costs, and confirmed the Trustees' determination and dismissed Petitioner's CPLR Article 78 proceeding on the merits.

The Appellate Division explained that the Trustees' Medical Board's determination is conclusive if it is supported by some credible evidence and is not arbitrary or capricious, citing Matter of Solomonoff v New York City Employees' Retirement Sys., 188 AD3d 700. Further, opined the court, in the event there is conflicting medical evidence involved in the proceeding, the "resolution of a conflict in the medical evidence is solely within the province of the Medical Board.

Noting the decision in Topkin v Board of Educ. of City School Dist. of N.Y., 121 AD2d at 531, the Appellate Division said:

1] "The board is privileged to accept the medical reports of its own expert over those of a claimant"

2. "A mere conflict in opinion among physicians is not a ground for disturbing a determination; and

[3] "Courts may not 'substitute [their] own judgment for that of the Medical Board,' citing Matter of Borenstein v New York City Employees' Retirement Sys., 88 NY2d at 761.

Click HERE to access the full text of the Appellate Division's decision in this appeal. 

 

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