The Third Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Egan, determined that the claimant, who was not affiliated with any authorized rescue entity or volunteer agency, but who participated in rescue efforts at or near the World Trade Center on September 11 and 12, 2001, was entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits:
Workers’ Compensation Law article 8-A, which is to be afforded a liberal construction, “was enacted ‘to remove statutory obstacles to timely claims filing and notice for latent conditions resulting from hazardous exposure for those who worked in rescue, recovery or cleanup operations following the World Trade Center September 11, 2001 attack'” …, quoting Senate Mem in Support, 2006 McKinney’s Session Laws of NY, at 1915). A “volunteer” may qualify for coverage under the statute provided he or she tenders to the Board satisfactory evidence that he or she participated in the rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations at the World Trade Center site (see Workers’ Compensation Law § 161 ; [b]; [i]) a geographical location defined by Workers’ Compensation Law § 161 (2) between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2002 and suffers from a “[q];ualifying condition,” including rhinitis and sinusitis (see Workers’ Compensation Law § 161 ; [a]), gastroesophageal reflux disease (see Workers’ Compensation Law § 161 ; [c]) and anxiety or depression (see Workers’ Compensation Law § 161 ; [d]). Here, the Board did not directly address the time, location and activity elements of the statute; rather, the Board denied claimant’s application for workers’ compensation benefits solely because claimant “did not serve under the direction of an authorized rescue entity or volunteer agency” and, hence, “[did]; not meet the definition of [a]; volunteer” within the meaning of Workers’ Compensation Law article 8-A.
* * * Noticeably absent from both Workers’ Compensation Law article 8-A and the commonly understood meaning of the word volunteer is any requirement that such individual “serve under the direction of an authorized rescue entity or volunteer agency.” Accordingly, the Board’s imposition of such a requirement is, to our analysis, contrary to the plain terms of the statute. Matter of Hazan v WTC Volunteer Fund, 2014 NY Slip Op 04103, 3rd Dept 6-5-14