Matter of Philip Warshawky v Thomas DiNapoli, as State Comptroller

In this Article 78 case, petitioner, a court officer, applied for accidental disability retirement benefits after suffering two heart attacks. He did not identify any specific incident as the causative event for his heart problems. The New York State and Local Retirement System denied the application finding that the heart attacks did not constitute accidents. Petitioner’s case was heard by a Hearing Officer who agreed with the Retirement System’s decision and the Comptroller adopted the Hearing Officer’s conclusions. Petitioner then brought about an Article 78 appeal to challenge the Comptroller’s decision. The Supreme Court granted petitioner’s application to annul a determination of the Comptroller denying him accidental disability retirement benefits on the grounds that petitioner did not need to show an accident occurred.

The Comptroller then appealed this decision arguing that petitioner was responsible for showing that a qualifying accident occurred to cause his heart attack. The Court, while noting that the Supreme Court performed a sound analysis of established principles of construction, ruled that the precedent and legislative history did does not excuse petitioner from demonstrating a qualifying accident occurred causing his disabling heart disease.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the determination, without costs, and dismissed the petition.

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