Matter of Murphy v. New York State Comptroller


          Petitioner, a police officer who worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who worked at John F. Kennedy International Airport as an emergency rescue worker, commenced an Article 78 proceeding to review determination by Respondent, Comptroller, denying Petitioner accidental disability retirement benefits. 

          Petitioner was injured in January of 1999 when exiting a rescue truck he slipped on black ice and fell injuring his leg, ankle, head and shoulders.  In May of 2007 a hearing officer approved Petitioner for accidental disability retirement benefits but, the Comptroller reversed and denied the benefits. 

          Accidental disability retirement benefits should be awarded when the incident was “a sudden, fortuitous, out of the ordinary and unexpected event that does not result from an activity undertaken in the performance of regular or routine employment duties.” Petitioner explained that on the date of his injury it was cold but “clear with no precipitation”, the “taxiway was dry” and that he saw “no ice as he was exiting from the truck’s cab.” 

          The Comptroller decision rested on the concept that “encountering slick or icy surfaces was “inherent” in petitioner’s performance of his job during the winter.”  Therefore, the event could have been “reasonably anticipated.”

          The Court determined that it could not hold that “any slip and fall during the course of work performed outside during winter renders that event foreseeable.”  Accordingly, the Court determined that the Comptroller’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence and the determination must be annulled.