Determining line-of-duty disability

Determining line-of-duty disability Ertner v Chenango County, 280 AD2d 851 In considering the standard to apply in determining line-of-duty disability for the purpose of demonstrating eligibility for Section 207-c benefits, in the Ertner case, the Appellate Division, Third Department said that: While it would be virtually impossible to enumerate each and every instance in which an employee would be entitled to General Municipal Law Section 207-c benefits as opposed to workers' compensation benefits (and such determinations must, of necessity, be made on an ad hoc basis), two rather classic examples come to mind: a police officer injured while pursuing a fleeing felon and a correction officer injured while attempting to quell a prison riot. At the opposite end of that spectrum is a case such as this. It can hardly be said that an injury incurred while a correction officer is going up or down stairs at his or her place of employment is one incurred as the result of a heightened risk peculiar to the performance of the duties of such an officer. Applying this analysis to the claim for Section 207-c benefits filed by Chenango County correction officer Tammy Ertner, the Appellate Division sustained the County's determination that Ertner was not injured "during the performance [of] a job function peculiar to a correction officer." Ertner was disabled as a result of her falling while going downstairs to inspect the first-floor cells of the jail, having just completed such an inspection of the second floor. She applied for and was awarded workers' compensation benefits. Ertner then applied for Section 207-c benefits. Ertner's application was rejected on the basis that her injury was not "incurred during the performance [of] a job function peculiar to a correction officer" and she appealed the determination. Noting that in Balcerak v County of Nassau, 94 NY2d 253, the Court of Appeals has ruled that entitlement to benefits under the Workers' Compensation Law and Section 207-c are discrete and entirely independent of one another, the Appellate Division dismissed Ertner's appeal. The court pointed out that workers' compensation benefits are provided for injuries incurred in the course of ordinary and otherwise unqualified employment duties. In contrast, Section 207-c [and Section 207-a] benefits are provided to "compensate specified municipal employees for injuries incurred in the performance of … work" peculiar to their specialized employment. In contrast, in another recent case, Flannelly v NYC Police Pension Fund, decided December 19, 2000, the Appellate Division, First Department, ruled that tripping and falling over a tangle of television and VCR wires in the women's locker room of the police station where she worked, while performing a routine security inspection was, as a matter of law, a service-related accident entitling New York City police officer Diane Flannelly to an accident disability pension. The court said that the wires were in an unexpected location at the entrance of the locker room, a situation that had been recently created by painters who, unknown to Flannelly or anyone else in the police station, had moved the television and VCR and unplugged their wires.

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