Sustaining an injury driving to work in agency vehicle not a performance of duties injury for the purposes of eligibility for GML §207-c benefits

Sustaining an injury driving to work in agency vehicle not a performance of duties injury for the purposes of eligibility for GML §207-c benefits Matter of Cady v County of Oneida, Supreme Court, Oneida County, 14 Misc3d 1234(A), Affirmed 38 AD3d 1320 David Cady, a Deputy/Investigator for the Oneida County's Sheriff's Department, was assigned an unmarked Sheriff's vehicle. He was authorized to keep the vehicle at his residence and use it to transport himself to and from his work site. Cady was involved in an automobile accident while he was driving to work.* The accident occurred about 10 minutes before Cady was scheduled to be at work. Cady was injured in the accident and applied for and received worker's compensation benefits. He also applied for disability benefits pursuant to §207-c of the General Municipal Law. His application for §207-c benefits was denied by the County. The reason advanced by the County: GML §207-c provides benefits for injuries to a deputy sheriff who has been injured in the performance of his duties and that at the time of the accident Cady had not commenced his work duty shift and therefore was not in the performance of his duties. Cady appealed. The hearing officer concluded that Cady was not entitled to GML §207-c benefits because he was not injured in the performance of his duties. The hearing officer's determination was adopted by the County. Cady sued, seeking a court order overturning the County's determination. Cady argued that he was in the performance of his duties because he is "on call" twenty-four hours a day and could be dispatched to emergencies or to investigate criminal acts. In addition, he claimed, he was directed to be observant for accidents and criminal activity while en route to work using the assigned car. Cady also contended the he was assigned a "take-home" vehicle for the Department's benefit. The County claimed its conclusion that "Cady was not in the performance of his duties at the time the accident occurred" was neither irrational nor an abuse of discretion. It said that Cady conceded that during his drive to work on the day of the accident he was not dispatched to conduct any investigation nor did he observe any criminal activity. Supreme Court Judge Grow ruled that the County's determination that Cady does not qualify for GML §207-c benefits is not irrational, not based on an error of law, not arbitrary, capricious, nor an abuse of discretion, and confirmed the Hearing Officer's determination. * According to the decision, Cady was not at fault. The decision is posted on the Internet at: http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2006/2006_52585.htm

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