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New York: Court Clarifies State's Definition of Occupational Disease

July 26, 2020 (1 min read)

Stressing that in New York, an occupational disease is one "resulting from the nature of employment and contracted therein [see N.Y. Workers' Comp. Law § 2[15]], and not from environmental conditions at the workplace, a state appellate court reversed a Board determination that a claimant who contended his prostate cancer was an occupational disease resulting from maintenance and cleaning of police cars that he had performed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack. contaminated with toxins from, the WTC clean-up operations in 2001. The Court observed that in rejecting the claim, the Board had relied upon the fact that claimant had been exposed to toxins that were not a “normal attribute of [his] work” [Opinion, p. 3]. The Board missed the point, said the court. Claimant’s maintenance duties required him to actually clean the vehicles by removing the toxins. Accordingly, claimant’s exposure to the WTC toxins derived from the very nature of his work, not from an environmental condition of the workplace. Under the state's definition of occupational disease, it could be possible for the claimant to maintain a claim. The case was remanded for further proceedings.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Matter of Renko v. New York State Police, 2020 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3918 (3d Dept. July 9, 2020)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 52.03.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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