Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Supreme Court of New Jersey
October 10, 2006, Argued; July 24, 2007, Decided
A-100 September Term 2005
[*192] [**545] Justice LONG delivered the opinion of the Court.
On this appeal, we revisit the traumatic event standard under the accidental disability retirement provision of the Police & Firemen's Retirement System (PFRS), N.J.S.A. 43:16A-1 to 68. 1 ] Under our current case law, to qualify as disabled by a "traumatic event" [***9] a member must prove: (a) that his injuries were not induced by the stress or strain of the normal work effort; (b) that he met involuntarily with the object or matter that was the source of the harm; and (c) that the source of the injury itself was "a great rush of force or uncontrollable power." Kane v. Bd. of Trs., Police & Firemen's Ret. Sys., 100 N.J. 651, 663, 498 A.2d 1252 (1985). Application of that standard has resulted in confusion and created a body of law with no rational core, thereby compelling this re-evaluation. We recognize that an injury generated by a great rush of force is one example that will satisfy the traumatic event standard, but not the only example. Rather, the traumatic event standard will also be met by a work-connected event that is: (a) identifiable as to time and place; (b) undesigned and unexpected; and (c) caused by a circumstance external to the member (not the result of pre-existing disease that is aggravated or accelerated by the work). By that paradigm shift, we return to what we believe the Legislature intended in adopting the language of N.J.S.A. 43:16A-7 --to excise disabilities that result from pre-existing disease alone or in combination with work effort [***10] from the sweep of the accidental disability statutes and to continue to allow recovery for the kinds of unexpected injurious events that had long been called "accidents." In so doing, we also provide decision [*193] makers with a standard capable of consistent and uniform application.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
192 N.J. 189 *; 927 A.2d 543 **; 2007 N.J. LEXIS 907 ***
STEWART A. RICHARDSON, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, v. BOARD OF TRUSTEES, POLICE AND FIREMEN'S RETIREMENT SYSTEM, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT.
Prior History: [***1] On certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division.
Richardson v. Police and Fireman's Retirement System, 186 N.J. 364, 895 A.2d 451, 2006 N.J. LEXIS 459 (2006)Richardson v. Board of Trs., 2005 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 576 (App.Div., Dec. 2, 2005)
Disposition: The court reversed the judgment of the lower court and remanded the case to the Board for disposition of the case consistent with the court's opinion, particularly for the Board to award the claimant accidental disability benefits.
traumatic event, accidental, disability, pre-existing, disease, work effort, disability benefits, cases, rush, falls, workers' compensation, permanently, heart attack, inmate, unexpected, total disability, accelerated, aggravated, external, injuries, legislative intent, corrections officer, external force, direct result, qualify, mishap, strand, uncontrollable, gravitational, strain
Labor & Employment Law, Disability Benefits, Scope & Definitions, Types of Disabilities, Pensions & Benefits Law, Governmental Employees, Police Pensions, Workers' Compensation & SSDI, Compensability, Injuries, Accidental Injuries, Evidence, Disability Evidence, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Deference to Agency Statutory Interpretation, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation