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Mishap with Dumpster Not Compensable

 Police Officer's Mishap with Dumpster, while Reminiscent of a Cartoon, Wasn't an 'Accident':



A New York appellate court ruled that a police officer who injured himself while disposing of property at a landfill when his glove got caught on a bracket from a chair he was throwing from the back of a truck was not entitled to an accidental disability retirement.


Case: Hyland v. New York State Comptroller, No. 518446, 10/02/2014, published.


Facts: Patrick Hyland applied for accidental disability retirement benefits alleging that he was permanently incapacitated from performing his duties as a police officer due to his injuries from a mishap while he was disposing of property at a landfill.


He claimed that his police-issued glove caught on a bracket attached to a 70-pound automobile seat that he was throwing from a police truck into a dumpster. This caused him to be propelled toward the dumpster, along with the seat, and he wound up getting wedged between a concrete pad and the dumpster itself.


Hyland contended that this incident constituted an "accident" within the meaning of the Retirement and Social Security Law, as it was "far more reminiscent of a Looney Tunes episode featuring Wile E. Coyote than of an ordinary misstep or expected hazard."


Procedural History: A hearing officer denied Hyland's application and the New York state comptroller upheld this decision.


Analysis: The Appellate Division's 3rd Department explained that an "accident" under the Retirement and Social Security Law is "a sudden and extraordinary event that is unrelated to the ordinary risks of employment."


The court reasoned that "an injury caused by gears getting caught while throwing a heavy piece of evidence into a dumpster is a hazard that could be reasonably anticipated," and so it found substantial evidence supports the comptroller's determination that Hyland did not suffer an accidental injury.


Disposition: Confirmed.


To read the decision, click here.

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