The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Feinman, over a concurring opinion and a three-judge dissenting opinion, reversing the Appellate Division, determined that petitioner, a Nassau County correction officer, was entitled to performance-of-duty disability retirement benefits. An inmate, apparently under the influence of drugs, was unsteady on her feet and had to be helped from the transport van to the court, and then back to the van. Upon arrival at the jail, when the transport doors were opened, the inmate fell head first out of the van on top of petitioner, who suffered rotator cuff and cervical spine injuries. The applicable statute refers to injury caused by “any act of any inmate.” The majority concluded the act need not be intentional:
Our task … is to give effect to the text [of the statute, Retirement and Social Security Law § 607-c (a) ]. … [E]ven if we were to consider the legislative history, it is inconclusive. While we agree with the dissent insofar as there seemed to have been a desire to provide protections to correction officers because they “come into daily contact with certain persons who are dangerous, profoundly anti-social and who pose a serious threat to their health and safety” (Governor’s Approval Mem, Bill Jacket, L 1996, ch 722 at 9), inmates may be “dangerous” and pose a “serious threat” as much through their involuntary acts as by their voluntary acts.
Here, the inmate took one to two steps, lost her balance, and landed on petitioner, injuring her. Petitioner’s injuries were thus sustained by “any act of any inmate,” i.e., the inmate’s fall on petitioner. Matter of Walsh v New York State Comptroller, 2019 NY Slip Op 08518, CtApp 11-25-19