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No Accidental Disability Benefits from Alleged Assault

 No Accidental Disability Benefits for Officer from Alleged Assault:

 

 

A New York appellate court ruled that a police officer, who responded to a call about a fight and suffered injuries after one of the combatants allegedly attacked him without warning, was not entitled to accidental disability retirement benefits.

 

Case: Fulton v. New York State Comptroller, No. 518444, 11/06/2014, published.

 

Facts: Raymond Fulton, a member of the New York City Police Department, was on patrol on July 21, 2008, when he was called to a location where two men were fighting in the street.

 

When he arrived at the scene, one man was fleeing and the other was standing in the middle of the street.

 

Fulton would later testify that the man appeared to be incoherent, and that he had directed the man to step to the side of the road, out of the path of oncoming vehicles.

 

Rather than comply, Fulton said, the man attacked. Fulton suffered injuries to his shoulder and neck in the ensuing fight.

 

Procedural History: Fulton filed an application for accidental disability retirement benefits based on his injuries from this assault.

 

The retirement board denied his application, and a hearing officer upheld this decision on the basis that the assault did not constitute an "accident" within the meaning of the Retirement and Social Security Law. The state comptroller agreed.

 

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

 

The court reasoned that Fulton's regular duties as police officer would include responding to a call about a street fight and being drawn into a physical confrontation with the combatants.

 

"Consequently, we find that substantial evidence supports the Comptroller's determination that the incident did not qualify as an accident entitling petitioner to receive accidental disability retirement benefits," the court said.

 

Disposition: Confirmed.

 

To read the decision, click here.

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