A New York City firefighter challenged denial of a firefighter's application for Accidental Disability Retirement [ADR] following a tie vote by the Board of Trustees of the Article 1-B Pension in the course of its considering the firefighter's application for ADR.
In this appeal the Appellate Division sustained the rejection of the firefighter's application for ADR after a "tie vote" by the Board of Trustees resulted in the firefighter receiving Ordinary Disability Retirement [ODR], explaining:
1. A firefighter becomes eligible for Accidental Disability Retirement [ADR] benefits when a medical examination and investigation results in a finding that the firefighter is physically or mentally incapacitated for the performance of city-service as a natural and proximate result of an injury received in city-service; and
2. If the Medical Board concludes that firefighter is disabled, it must next determine whether the disability is "a natural and proximate result of an accidental injury received in such city-service" and certify its recommendation on this issue to the Board of Trustees, which is ultimately responsible for retiring the city service member and determining the issue of service-related causation; and
3. Although the Board of Trustees is "bound by the medical board's determination of disability," the Board is not bound by the medical board's determination that the disability suffered by the firefighter was the result of a service-related accident and the burden of establishing that the disability is causally related to a line-of-duty accident rests with the applicant for ADR; and ultimately
4. In the event the vote by the Board of Trustees results in a tie with respect granting the applicant ADR, the Board of Trustees is required to retire the applicant for ADR with Ordinary Disability Retirement benefits.
Further, opined the Appellate Division, a court may not set aside the denial of ADR resulting from such a tie vote unless "it can be determined as a matter of law on the record that the disability was the natural and proximate result of a service-related accident."
Click HEREto access the decision of the Appellate Division posted on the Internet.