February 1998 Legal Update

LEGAL UPDATE
By: Louis D. Stober, Jr., Esq.
CSEA REGIONAL ATTORNEY

INTERPRETING GENERAL MUNICIPAL LAW §207-c

This month's article focuses on a recent decision interpreting General Municipal Law § 207-c which provides for the payment of the regular salary of certain law enforcement employees such as police officers, correction officers, deputy sheriffs, probation officers, AMT's, etc. when injured in the line of duty.

In Balcerak v. County of Nassau, Justice Lockman has reconfirmed a long standing principle that if an employee covered by 207-c is granted Workers Compensation benefits s/he is entitled to 207-c benefits as well. In Balcerak, the Nassau County Sheriff refused to pay a Correction Officer who was injured in an automobile accident 207-c benefits because he felt the Officer was not injured in the line of duty.

CSEA authorized my office to commence suit to get Mr. Balcerak's 207-c benefits because Workers Compensation had ruled in his favor. We won our suit and the Sheriff has been ordered to pay Mr. Balcerak the full amount of his salary retroactive to the date of his injury.

This decision reconfirmed the 1989 decision, Crawford v. Sheriff's Department, Putnam County, 152 A.D.2d 382, 548 N.Y.S.2d 734, app. den. 76 N.Y.2d 704, 559 N.Y.S.2d 984, 559 N.E.2d 678 which held: "General Municipal Law §207-c is a remedial statute enacted for the benefit of law enforcement personnel injured in the line of duty, and as such, is to be liberally construed in their favor ... the only possible impediment … would be a determination that his injury was not incurred during, or did not result from, the performance of his duties. However, the issue of whether the petitioner's disability arose from the performance of his work duties has already been resolved in his favor by the Workers' Compensation Board which, in rendering its award, necessarily determined that he had suffered an injury in the line of duty. Hence the record establishes that the petitioner is entitled to payment of the full amount of his regular salary or wages pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-c."

The County has now been advised that it cannot deny 207-c benefits to employees if they have been granted Workers Compensation benefits.

If you believe you are in a similar situation, contact your union representative.