The First Department, annulling the denial of accidental disability retirement (ADR) benefits in this firefighter-disability case, determined that the Medical Board’s failure to explain the reasons for its conclusion there was no accident and the injuries were not debilitating required remittal to the Medical Board and a new determination by the Board of Trustees with a record adequate for review:
… [T]he Medical Board found petitioner to be disabled on account of the left shoulder injuries he sustained on March 22, 2018. However, citing “inconsistencies” and a “lack of witnessed accounts . . . that would suggest . . . an accident,” the Board denied petitioner an ADR benefit. When the insufficient explanation was raised before the Board of Trustees, they acknowledged that a witness statement was not necessary, and stated that they did not understand what the Medical Board was referring to with regard to inconsistencies in the manner of petitioner’s injuries. Nevertheless, when the Board of Trustees reconsidered the matter, it simply took a vote on petitioner’s application without any deliberation or indication as to why he had been denied an ADR benefit, issuing a conclusory denial without any explanation as to why they had adopted the Medical Board’s unsupported statements about alleged inconsistencies concerning the nature of petitioner’s injuries.
The Medical Board failed to provide any factual basis concerning the alleged inconsistencies and why it did not believe petitioner’s injuries to be accidental. Further, the determination of the Medical Board was devoid of any articulated basis for its conclusion that the limitations of petitioner’s cervical and lumbar spine were not a debilitating or incapacitating condition for performing the duties of a firefighter. The failure to set forth an adequate statement of the factual basis for the determination forecloses the possibility of fair judicial review … . Matter of Reynolds v New York City Fire Pension Fund, 2022 NY Slip Op 06330, First Dept 11-10-22
Practice Point: Here the injured NYC firefighter was denied accidental disability retirement (ADR) but the Medical Board did not give any reasons for its conclusion. The findings were annulled and the matter remitted for a new determination and the creation of an adequate record for review.