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Antonsen v. Ward

Court of Appeals of New York

February 5, 1991, Argued ; March 26, 1991, Decided

No Number in Original


 [*509]  [***328]  [****6]  [**636]     OPINION OF THE COURT

 Gregory Antonsen, a probationary police officer, has been dismissed from the New York City Police Department because he has Crohn's disease. Although the disease is currently in remission, the Police Commissioner contends that because there is a reasonable expectation that the disease will  [***329]   [**637]  recur, rendering Antonsen unfit to perform the duties of a police officer, his dismissal did not violate the Human Rights Law. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed Supreme Court's contrary conclusion granting Antonsen's petition and directing his reinstatement. We granted leave to appeal to the Police Commissioner and the City of New York (collectively, the Commissioner).

In July 1985, Gregory Antonsen, who then was just short of his 24th birthday, after successfully completing the relevant tests, was appointed to the New York City Police Department and entered the Police Academy. He was graduated from the Academy in December 1985, in the top 5% of his class. In August 1985, while still at the Academy, Antonsen developed abdominal pains and an onset of diarrhea. He was placed on medication but the symptoms persisted [****7]  although they apparently were not disabling.

 [*510]  Following his graduation from the Police Academy, Antonsen was assigned to the Neighborhood Stabilization Unit for a six-month period. While a member of this unit he worked out of various precincts throughout New York City as part of his orientation. His duties included foot patrol, during which he engaged in several foot chases of criminals. In one of these chases he subdued an individual who was wielding a knife. He also made a number of felony drug arrests and was rated by his supervising sergeant as a "superb police officer" whose medical condition did not interfere with the performance of his police duties. In July 1986, Antonsen was assigned to regular patrol duties in a South Bronx precinct. He developed pains in his leg and in his side and was hospitalized. He was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

Crohn's disease is a form of inflammation which may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. The cause of the disease is unknown and to date, no complete cure has been found. There is record evidence that many of the most common symptoms of the disease -- mild diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever -- can be treated [****8]  with medication as well as through dietary control. Surgical intervention, however, is sometimes indicated.

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77 N.Y.2d 506 *; 571 N.E.2d 636 **; 569 N.Y.S.2d 328 ***; 1991 N.Y. LEXIS 364 ****; 5 Am. Disabilities Cas. (BNA) 209; 58 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P41,237

In the Matter of Gregory Antonsen, Respondent, v. Benjamin Ward, as Police Commissioner of the Police Department of the City of New York, et al., Appellants

Prior History:  [****1]   Appeal, by permission of the Court of Appeals, from an order of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department, entered May 15, 1990, which affirmed a judgment of the Supreme Court (David H. Edwards, Jr., J.), entered in New York County in a proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78, granting the petition, and reinstating petitioner to his position as a probationary New York City police officer with back pay.

 Matter of Antonsen v Ward, 161 AD2d 378.

Disposition: Order affirmed, with costs.


disease, recurrence, disability, patients, police officer, surgery, recur, Rights, reasonable expectation, symptoms, recommendation, statistical data, quality of life, gastroenterologists, reinstatement, medication, performing, underwent, predict

Business & Corporate Compliance, Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Federal & State Interrelationships, Governments, Legislation, Statutory Remedies & Rights, Labor & Employment Law, Disabilities Under ADA, Mental & Physical Impairments, General Overview, Scope & Definitions