PENSION LITIGATION

Please Note: The Party Names and Index Numbers of the below listed cases have been omitted based on previous experiences involving attorneys duplicating Mr. Lukaszewski’s legal papers. Please contact the firm directly with regard to additional questions and information.

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June 2004 - The Court determined that the NYPD Pension Fund had acted improperly and arbitrarily, by denying an officer who had a major heart attack one year after retirement on a line-of-duty disability pension under the Heart Bill, where the officer had displayed signs of a heart condition at the time of her Service Retirement (20yrs) and whose disability pension application included a Heart Bill claim, but who was initially denied by the Pension Fund Medical Board upon first review, but whose application was still active at the time of the heart attack. The Court remanded the case unconvinced by the Pension Fund’s attempts to claim the heart condition was not job related to the officer’s 20 years of police service and had developed only in the one year after the officer’s retirement.

July 2004 - The Court found the decision of the FDNY Pension Fund, which was based in part on its “impartial expert” Dr. Delavagas, to deny a Fire Lieutenant with a debilitating line-of-duty related ankle condition, to be arbitrary and capricious, and remanded the matter.

August 2004 - The Court remanded the application of an NYPD officer who the Pension Fund had given an Ordinary Disability pension and denied an Accident Disability pension, for a disabling knee condition which was caused by his stepping into a pothole while on duty. The Court found the Fund had not properly considered the issue of an “accident” versus an “incident,” for pension purposes.

September 2004 - The Court found that the FDNY Pension Fund had acted improperly in awarding a non line-of-duty disability pension and denying an accident disability pension to a Fire Marshall with disabling back and neck conditions, who had injured his back and neck in a serious line-of-duty auto accident. The Court remanded the matter and ordered the Fund to utilize a new “outside consultant” other than Dr. Raynor on remand.

October 2004 - The Court determined the FDNY Pension Fund had acted arbitrarily and improperly in denying an applicant with a long history of line of duty spinal injuries, a line of duty disability pension, and instead, awarding him a non line-of-duty disability pension for a spinal disability which the Pension Fund Medical Board determined was not related to his numerous on the job back and neck injuries, based in part on their “expert” Dr. Raynor’s finding. The matter was remanded for a more appropriate review.

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January 2005 - The Court found the FDNY Pension Fund had not properly considered the evidence, particularly, the Board of Trustees failed to failed to present new evidence to the Medical Board, and instead finalized their denial, in case where petitioner was awarded a non line of duty pension based on a claim that he was disabled by a polyneuropathy which affected his neck and upper extremities, while being denied a line of duty disability pension for radiculopathy related to a line of duty injury in which he injured his neck and after which he never returned to full duty.

May 2005 - The Court remanded the denied disability pension application of a Firefighter with serious line-of-duty accident related spinal problems, based on a finding the Pension Fund had ignored evidence in evaluating the application.

July 2005 - The Court found that the FDNY Pension Fund had acted improperly by ignoring evidence related to the applicant’s recurring hernia condition, in an application which involved multiple line-of-duty accidents and several disabling conditions, and remanded the denied accident disability pension application for further review.

August 2005 - The Court remanded the disability pension application of a Firefighter with 9/11 lung problems, for further review, finding the Pension Fund’s denial to be arbitrary, capricious and improper.

October 2005 - The Court found that the FDNY Pension Fund had acted improperly and arbitrarily in denying a Firefighter, who had suffered disabling burns to his legs, a disability pension. The Court found that the Fund had ignored credible evidence establishing the applicant to be disabled for full fire duty, and had relied on “experts” without an expertise in burns, and remanded the matter for a more appropriate review.

October 2005 - The Court found the FDNY Pension Fund had ignored evidence and complaints and conditions of an FDNY Fire Chief injured in a fall at Ground Zero, and ordered his Accident Disability pension application to be reconsidered. October 2005 - The Court determined the FDNY Pension Fund had failed to review certain records in denying an applicant an accident disability retirement pension for a spinal condition, and remanded the matter.

November 2005 - The Court remanded an NYPD Heart Bill case in which it determined that the Pension Fund had ignored evidence in denying the applicant a line-of-duty disability pension.

December 2005 - The Court found that the NYPD Pension Fund had improperly considered the psychological disability pension application of an officer involved in numerous line-of-duty shootings, including a 1996 sniper incident where he was shot in his bullet proof vest while making a phone call from a public phone, and remanded the matter for further consideration. The Pension Fund had awarded a non line-of-duty psychological disability pension for a depressive disorder which they found was unrelated to any of the shooting incidents.

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February 2006 - The Court remanded the denied disability pension application of an officer with line of duty related hearing problems, whose hearing did not meet the NYPD applicant requirement standards, but who the Pension Fund nevertheless found fit for full duty.

March 2006 - The Court found that the FDNY Pension Fund had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying an applicant’s accident disability pension application for a line-of-duty spinal condition, and order that the case be remanded and that a new outside “impartial” consultant other than Dr. Raynor be utilized.

April 2006 - The Court remanded a matter for the second time where it finds the FDNY Pension Fund had acted improperly in denying a Fire Lieutenant’s Accident Disability Application for a line-of-duty ankle condition.

May 2006 - The Court found that the FDNY Pension Fund had improperly denied a Firefighter’s disability pension application for a lung condition. The applicant was a tri-athlete before 9/11, and was shortly thereafter assigned to permanent light duty by the FDNY’s own doctors for his lung problems. The Court remanded the matter for a more legally sufficient review.

June 2006 - The Court remanded the application of a female officer who was awarded Ordinary Disability Retirement and denied Accident Disability Retirement for a psychological disability, where the officer had discovered her partner’s body minutes after she shot herself in the head in the women’s locker room. The Pension Fund found the suicide discovery to have not contributed to the psychological disability.

June 2006 - The Court determined the NYPD Pension Fund had acted improperly by awarding a deceased Sergeant with 19.5 years on the job, who had suffered a fatal heart attack while on vacation, a non line-of-duty pension, and denied the Sergeant’s family the benefits of a line-of-duty pension under the Heart Bill. The matter was remanded for a more appropriate review.

June 2006 - The Court remanded the denied application of a Firefighter with serious line-of-duty accident related back and neck problems, based on a finding the Pension Fund had ignored evidence in evaluating the case. The Court also instructed that a new “independent expert” other than Dr. Raynor be utilized on remand.

June 2006 - The Court found the NYPD Pension Fund had acted arbitrarily and unfairly in refusing to process the Heart Bill disability pension application of an officer who had underwent heart testing two weeks before his Service Retirement (20yrs), but did not get the results which revealed a life threatening heart condition that required immediate surgery, until 13 days after his retirement date. The Court ordered that the Pension Fund accept and process the application which the officer filed 22 days post-retirement as soon as he left the hospital.

September 2006 - The Court remanded the denied Accident disability pension application of an NYPD officer with 9/11 lung problems, based on a finding that it appeared the Pension Fund Medical Board did not possess the expertise to render a legally maintainable decision on the officer’s condition.

October 2006 - The Court found the NYPD Pension Fund’s denial of an NYPD officer’s application for a disability pension for a 9/11 related psychological condition, to be arbitrary and improper, and remanded the matter for reconsideration.

October 2006 - The Court determined that the NYPD Pension Fund had acted improperly in awarding a non line-of-duty disability pension and denying a line-of-duty disability pension, to an officer who was kicked in the shoulder while on full duty by an emotionally disturbed person and thereafter went to four shoulder specialists and underwent major shoulder surgery, and was left with a disability of the shoulder. The Court found the Pension Fund’s decision that the line-of-duty accident was not the cause of the disability, to be arbitrary and capricious.

October 2006 - The Court found that the NYPD Pension Fund had acted improperly in awarding a non line-of-duty psychological disability pension and denying a line-of-duty disability pension under the ‘9/11 Law’, to a female officer who had been assigned to Ground Zero on September 12th through the 14th of 2001, and left the World Trade Center site and immediately turned in her guns and ID, and was then found wandering the streets.

October 2006 - The Court remanded a denied ¾’s application of an NYPD officer with multiple line of duty spinal injuries and extensive treatments and lengthy treatment history, finding the Pension Fund’s review to have been improper.

December 2006 - The Court remanded a pension application to the NYPD Pension Fund where it found the Fund ignored evidence that a female officer was injured during her tour, and not before her tour, and thus is likely entitled to a line-of-duty disability pension (3/4’s) as opposed to the non line-of-duty (1/2) pension which was awarded.

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February 2007 - The Court determined that the NYPD Pension Fund had acted unfairly and improperly by denying a female officer a psychological line of duty disability pension for a condition related to her having to kill a deranged man who was attacking her through the window of a car on the highway. The Fund had approved her for a non line-of-duty pension for a back injury suffered in an off-duty car accident that occurred after the shooting. The Court found that the Fund had ignored evidence that the officer was placed on psychotropic medication immediately after the shooting which facilitated the NYPD taking her guns away, and that although she seemingly only went off the medication briefly, apparently to have her guns returned so that she might feel protected, she was thereafter returned to the medication which she had continued on and was on at the time of the auto accident. Moreover, the officer was in continuing psychological counseling following the accident. The matter was remanded for a more fair and “honest” review.

February 2007 - The Court remanded the denied disability pension application of an NYPD Detective with a serious line-of-duty knee condition which prevented his performance of true “full duty,” but who had spent the final four years of his career technically on “full duty”, but at an “inside” assignment working for the Terrorism task force; a position he was appointed to and kept at, for his computer skill and other specialties.

February 2007 - The Court determined that the NYPD Pension Fund had not rebutted the presumption of the Heart Bill and had improperly denied an officer with a 10 year history of hypertension and Tachycardia, a line of duty disability pension.

March 2007 - The Court found the NYPD Pension Fund failed to consider whether an officer’s line of duty injury either caused his disabling vertigo, or exacerbated a pre-existing condition, and remanded the matter in which the Fund had denied the officer Accident Disability Retirement and Awarded Ordinary Disability Retirement.

March 2007 – The Appellate Division, Second Department rules that the FDNY Pension Fund had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying the disability pension application of the petitioner, for a spinal condition. The Court held that the Medical Board and Board of Trustees had actually ignored their own expert who appeared to find the applicant disabled. He was also successful in demonstrating to the Court that the Pension Fund ultimately refused to incur the “minimal cost” of remanding the application to the Medical Board for a clarification. The Appellate Division found the Fund’s decision to be irrational and remitted the matter to respondents “for new medical reports and new medical findings by the Medical Board and a new determination by the Board of Trustees.”

April 2007 - The Court found the FDNY Pension Fund had acted improperly in finding the applicant’s spinal condition to have no relation to his multiple line-of-duty spinal injuries, and vacated the Ordinary Disability Pension award, which was based in part on the findings of the Fund’s “impartial expert” Dr. Raynor, for further consideration of whether the applicant is entitled to a line-of-duty disability pension.

May 2007 - The Appellate Division, Second Department, rules that the FDNY Pension Fund had acted improperly in awarding the petitioner a non-line-of-duty disability pensions rather than a line-of-duty disability pension for a right shoulder condition. In the case petitioner sustained a shoulder injury while on full duty while running into a burning building, and never returned to full duty thereafter. The Court ruled that: “There is no credible evidence in the record to support the Medical Board’s conclusion,” and ordered that, “the matter is remitted to the respondents’ [Board of Trustees] for the granting of petitioner’s [ADR] benefits.”

June 2007 - The Court found that the FDNY Pension Fund had acted improperly in denying both the applicant’s 9/11 lung disability pension application as well as his accident disability shoulder application which involved a review by the Fund’s “impartial” consultant Dr. Delavagas, where the applicant had been placed on permanent light duty as a result of both conditions. The Court remanded both application for a more legally sufficient review.

June 2007 - The Court found that the New York Employees' Retirement System had acted arbitrarily by finding that a Correction Officer on the blood thinner Coumadin as a result of a job related heart condition, was “fit for full duty”, and remanded the denied disability pension application for further review.

July 2007 - The Court remanded a denied Accident Disability Pension application to the NYPD Pension Fund which had denied his application despite the fact his line of duty hand condition prevented him from qualifying to carry a firearm.

July 2007 - The Court found the NYPD Pension Fund had acted improperly in failing to allow a female psychological disability applicant’s personal psychological doctor to appear at her Medical Board hearing, and remanded the matter, in which the Fund had award a non line-of-duty pensions and denied a line-of duty pension.

August 2007 - The Court found the FDNY Pension Fund had performed a legally deficient review of petitioner's 9/11 Lung Disability pension application as well as his orthopedic back application, which they utilized Dr. Raynor in evaluating, and remanded the case for a more legally sufficient consideration.

August 2007 - The Court remanded the application of an NYPD officer who was retired on an Ordinary psychological disability pension and denied an Accident disability pension, based on the finding that the NYPD Pension Fund had failed to consider the ‘World Trade Center Law’ and presumption it creates, in evaluating the applicant’s claim of 9/11 related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

September 2007 - The Court found the FDNY Pension Fund had finalized an ADR application despite the Board of Trustees never actually coming to a final determination on the application, and remanded the matter so that a judgement could be reached.

October 2007 - The Court determined the NYPD Pension Fund had acted improperly by taking away a 9/11 psychological disability pension from an officer who suffered a psychological injury on September 11, 2001, from witnessing the events of that day. He had to be taken from the sight for shortness of breath as a result of psychological trauma. The Pension Fund Medical Board found him to be psychologically unfit for full duty as a result of a psychological disability which was caused by his 9/11 experience. However, months after the applicant had been awarded a disability pension and was collecting the same, the Board of Trustees without any type of vote or discussion, took the pension away and replaced it with a lesser non line-of-duty pension, claiming the officer did not meet the criteria of the ‘9/11 Law’ because he did not have 40 hours at the site. It was argued that petitioner was protected under the laws intent, and the matter was remanded.

November 2007 - The Court remanded the application of a Firefighter who was denied a disability pension for back and neck conditions which required spinal surgery just months after the denial was finalized, and ordered the FDNY Pension Fund to reconsider the application and the evidence of the applicant’s spinal disability.

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January 2008 - The Court found the NYPD Pension Fund had acted improperly by failing to adequately address the back injuries of the disabled officer who they retired on a non-line of duty disability pension. The Court determined the Fund had not demonstrated its determination met the credible evidence standard, as the Board of Trustees relied on an insufficient explanation by the Medical Board. It was ordered that the case be remanded and a comprehensive determination be made.

July 2008 - The Court remanded the case of a retired police officer who claimed to have suffered hearing loss as a result of working at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The Police Pension Fund had retired the petitioner on an Ordinary disability pension, finding that his hearing loss had nothing to do with the hearing trauma sustained while on site as both Towers collapsed. The Fund also argued that hearing was not a condition covered under the World Trade Center Law presumption. The Court found no support for this argument and also found the Police Pension Fund Medical Board had not explained the reasoning behind this denial and remanded the case for further proceedings. (Note that gap in litigation history reflects commencement of own practice, where clients were signed up anew, resulting in few legal actions being filed in firm’s first year.)

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March 2009 – The Court remanded for the second time, the denied psychological Accident disability pension application of an NYPD Officer, where it was determined that the Pension Fund continued to ignore the issue of whether the Officer had become psychologically incapable of police work following her justified killing of a deranged man on the highway while traveling to work, who was assaulting her through the window of her vehicle and reaching for her gun. The Court found that the Pension Fund failed to fairly consider the officer’s psychological complaints and medical records in denying her application, because a short time after the shooting, she unfortunately was involved in an off duty car accident and was retired on a less lucrative non line of duty pension for orthopedic injuries sustained in the crash.

June 2009 - The Court found the NYPD Pension Fund Board of Trustees had not adequately explained their legal basis for refusing to allow a retired Detective who suffered a heart attack 13 months after taking his service retirement, to amend his still pending disability application to include his disabling heart condition which his doctors indicated was unquestionably caused by his 20 years in the Police Department; including his time in the Emergency Services Unit, and particularly his near 1,000 hours of World Trade Center rescue, recovery and clean-up efforts, as well as his time spent at the Hurricane Katrina disaster site. The Detective had argued that his application ought to have been amended under the Heart Bill and/or the World Trade Center Disability Law, based on the purpose and intent of each law. It was the Court’s ruling that the Board of Trustees had not adequately discussed or refuted the Detective’s attorney’s arguments in refusing the amendment to the Pension application to add the heart condition.

June 2009 - The Court found the NYPD Pension Fund had acted improperly in a harshly worded Decision remanding the application of a Detective found to be psychologically disabled by his World Trade Center efforts by the Police Pension Fund Medical Board, but retired on a non line of duty Ordinary Disability Retirement pension for the fact that the NYPD and the Police Pension Fund, claimed to be unable to locate their own employment records showing the Commands and locations to which the Detective was assigned during the World Trade Center disaster and clean-up; and thus refused to grant him a line of duty World Trade Center Disability retirement pension. The Court stated that the Board of Trustees had breached its duties by inexplicably searching for the Detective’s work records in locations to which he was not assigned, despite evidence presented by the Detective and letters written by his attorney, specifying his work locations, and the Court also criticized the Board of Trustees for continually, for 9 straight months, refusing to discuss the case on the record so that the errors could be discovered. The Court ordered the Board of Trustees to re-evaluate the case and for the re-evaluation to include all records submitted by the Detective and his attorney indicating to where the Detective was assigned and working on and after September 11, 2001.

November 2009 - The Court found the denial by NYCERS of a line of duty disability pension, and award of a non line of duty pension, to a petitioner who worked as an EMT for 19 years, without missing a day for a foot problem, and who less than 6 months after being forced by the FDNY to wear non-flexible, steel comprised boots, which did not fit and which he complained of from the first day he had to wear them, who suffered cracked bones in his foot and ankle and tears of his ligaments, based on a finding that it was petitioner’s diabetes and not the boots which had caused his injuries, to be wholly improper. In the case, the Court seemingly based its decision on the fact that the boots had caused hundreds of other FDNY-EMS members foot injuries, and petitioner’s diabetes remained controlled and at the same level from 1988 until the late 1990s, and then again from the late 1990’s until the time of his injury. The Court remanded the case so that evidence injuries to other FDNY members could be considered, as well the report of FDNY doctors that said petitioner’s condition was not diabetes related and all other relevant materials, and for an articulation of NYCERS reasoning for their decision the boots did not, at the very least, exacerbate or aggravate any pre-existing diabetic foot problem petitioner might have had.

November 2009 - The Supreme Court, Kings County, finds the denial by NYCERS of a line of duty disability pension, and award of a non line of duty pension, to an petitioner who worked as an EMT for 19 years, without missing a day for a foot problem, and who less than 6 months after being forced by the FDNY to wear non-flexible, steel comprised boots, which did not fit and which he complained of from the first day he had to wear them, who suffered cracked bones in his foot and ankle and tears of his ligaments, based on a finding that it was petitioner’s diabetes and not the boots which had caused his injuries, to be wholly improper. In the case, the Court seemingly based its decision on the fact that the boots had caused hundreds of other FDNY-EMS members foot injuries, and petitioner’s diabetes remained controlled and at the same level from 1988 until the late 1990s, and then again from the late 1990’s until the time of his injury. The Court remanded the case so that evidence injuries to other FDNY members could be considered, as well the report of FDNY doctors that said petitioner’s condition was not diabetes related and all other relevant materials, and for an articulation of NYCERS reasoning for their decision the boots did not, at the very least, exacerbate or aggravate any pre-existing diabetic foot problem petitioner might have had.

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March 2010 - The Kings County Supreme Court found the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) acted in a legally deficient manner in denying the disability pension application of a New York City Staff Nurse. The Judge held that it was clear that the NYCERS' Medical Board had dismissed findings of its own physicians and an independent physician, as well as ignored medical proof of disability which was submitted by the petitioner. The Court held that the Board of Trustees adopted a Medical Board recommendation which was not supported by credible evidence. The Court annulled the denial and remanded the application to the Retirement System for a new evaluation and new report by the Medical Board with regards to petitioner’s numerous debilitating conditions. In its decision the Court emphasized that the denial lacked a rational basis and the Medical Board put forth a bald and conclusory explanation for its findings which failed to substantiate that the petitioner was not disabled from performing the duties of a City Nurse.

May 2010 – The Supreme Court, New York County, determined, in remanding a ‘Heart Bill’ matter, that the Police Pension Fund had ignored the evidence of petitioner’s cardiologist and “cherry picked” from the evidence presented, in denying petitioner a line of duty disability pension under the Heart Bill. The Court found that the Pension Fund had not rebutted the presumption of the Heart Bill and had not disproven the connection between petitioner’s long standing history of hypertension and his heart disease. The Court noted that the Medical Board’s findings were conclusory, that the Medical Board contradicted itself, and seemed to ignore key evidence including the petitioner’s bouts of uncontrolled hypertension despite his taking tremendously high doses of high blood pressure medicine, and the extreme stress incurred in the final years of his career based on the operations in which he was involved. The Court sent the matter back to the Police Pension Fund to present the petitioner with “an appropriate application” of the Heart Bill.

May 2010 – (Note that based on the nature of petitioner’s job duties, this case was made to be confidential.) It was the finding of the Court that the Pension System had acted arbitrarily and improperly under the controlling laws based on the facts of the case, where the petitioner was found to be disabled, but it was determined the disability had absolutely no connection to the line of duty. The Court ordered a reconsideration of the case which was to include an evaluation in keeping with the detailed nature of the Court’s finding, which presented an in depth discussion of the applicable pension laws, and focused on the fact that the purpose and intent of such laws, is to protect those individuals whose occupations place them in harm’s way, to protect the general public.

June 2010 - It was the finding of the New York Supreme Court, that the NYPD Pension Fund had acted arbitrarily and improperly under the controlling laws, in awarding the petitioner an Ordinary (1/2) as opposed to an Accidental (3/4) disability pension, based on a determination that her psychological disability was the result of an “incident” and not an “accident”, under the disability pension law definition of an accident: “a sudden, fortuitous mischance, out of the ordinary and injurious in impact”; and it was ordered that the petitioner be granted an Accidental Disability Retirement pension and retroactive benefits. The petitioner was a police officer who had worked at an “inside” administrative job full time for 6 years prior, as opposed to being out in ‘the field’ performing what is commonly thought of as ‘true’ ‘police work’, and had just returned from being out of work for 6 weeks following a major life altering surgery, when she was forced to shoot and kill a deranged individual who attacked her through the passenger window of the car she was being driven home from work in; and who bled to death on top of her and whose dead body had to be lifted off of her. It was found by the Court, that it was totally unexpected when the individual charged the car in the middle of the traffic packed highway and attacked petitioner, and tried to take her gun. And that based on the petitioner’s job assignment and recent medical leave, it was totally out of the ordinary for her to have to take the police action of shooting an individual at that time. The Court thus ordered the pension upgrade and retroactive benefits.

July 2010 - The Appellate Division, First Department, reversed the Supreme Court, New York County, which had upheld a disability pension denial in the case of a former NYPD police officer who had presented extensive evidence of severe line of duty related spinal injuries. In reversing the lower Court, and remanding the matter to the Police Pension Fund, the First Department Judges agreed with the petitioner-appellants’ arguments, and determined that the Pension Fund’s Medical Board had failed to consider evidence, including the Officer’s surgeons’ reports, and diagnostic test results, and that the Board failed to explain and justify its denial, particularly in light of its own noted observations that the Officer had limitations in his range of motion and physical abilities. The Appellate Court further found that petitioner-appellant had demonstrated that instead of putting forth a legally sufficient explanation of its denial, the Medical Board simply referred back to previous ‘minutes’ in which it had concluded no disability, without discussing new probative evidence which was presented for its review and evaluation. The Appellate Court based its decision on the Officer’s arguments, that under the applicable laws, fairness dictates that all evidence in a disability pension matter be considered by the Medical Board and the Board of Trustees, and that the Medical Board must clearly state its reasons for a denial; and that neither of which had occurred; and thus the decisions of the Pension Fund and lower Court were legally deficient.

October 2010 - The Court found the NYPD Pension Fund had once again, following a prior Court remand, failed to properly consider the disability pension application of an officer who suffered multiple head and neck injuries as a result of several on the job assaults, a stairway collapse, and a fall from a fence during a foot pursuit. The Court held the Fund’s decision that these events had not caused his disabling vertigo, or exacerbated a pre-existing condition to the point of disability, lacked a rational basis and was not based on credible evidence. After originally remanding the matter in March of 2007 for further consideration of the denial of the petitioner’s Accident Disability Retirement pension application and award of a lesser non line of duty Ordinary Disability Retirement pension; the Court now invoked its power to award the petitioner Accident Disability Retirement, and ordered the Fund to pay retroactive benefits.

November 2010 - The Court found the actions of the NYPD Pension Fund’s Board of Trustees, in refusing to accept the conclusion of their own Medical Board that the petitioner had developed the psychological condition Somatization Disorder as a result of multiple line of duty injuries, particularly a March 2005 injury in which she incurred hand, neck, and arm injuries; and awarded Ordinary Disability Retirement and denied Accident Disability Retirement based on a finding that the petitioner’s condition had absolutely no causal connection to the line of duty injury(s), despite three detailed explanations of the causal connection by the Medical Board; to be “irrational”, “not based on objective medical evidence”, “made summarily, without any indication of what evidence, if any, the Board relied upon in reaching its conclusion”, and it was noted that “the Board has failed to articulate any rational basis for its denial of petitioner’s application.” The Court instructed that the respondents’ determination “be annulled as arbitrary and capricious” and “must be remanded back to the Board of Trustees to reconsider the issue of causation.”

December 2010 - The Court found the NYPD Pension Fund had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in refusing an NYPD Detective's request to re-open his disability pension application, which had been closed one month before while he was still in the hospital recovering from a major heart attack and the placement of 5 stents, to include his heart condition; where the heart attack occurred less than 6 months after his retirement, following a 24.5 year career, and where the heart condition was previously undiagnosed because of improper heart testing. It was petitioner's claim that the Pension Fund was aware of his heart attack and hospitalization and ought to have amended his application which was for a leg condition, where evidence of cardiac testing was also present; or at the very least, kept his application open until he was capable of taking the appropriate actions regarding his heart condition in connection therewith. The Court found petitioner ought to have the opportunity to have the Pension Fund evaluate whether his heart condition is line of duty related, under the ‘Heart Bill'. The Court's decision noted the extenuating circumstance and the time frames, and ordered that the Pension Fund re-open the application and allow for the amendment so that petitioner's heart disability claim is considered.

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March 2011 - (As publicized in NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL as Featured Article in Journal’s TODAY’S TOP STORIES [cover story]; as well NEW YORK POST) APPELLATE DIVISION SECOND DEPARTMENT - The Appellate Division Second Department overturned the denial by the FDNY Pension Fund of a petition for line of duty death benefits brought under the World Trade Center Law, which had been upheld by the lower Court, and remand the application for further consideration. The application was brought by the widow of an FDNY Lieutenant who had run 9 marathons during his career, and spent hundreds of hours at the World Trade Center site, and retired in good health in 2002, but thereafter began to suffer various health issues, and eventually died in July 2006 as a result of a complex cardiac event while playing in shallow water with his young nephew in full view of his family while on vacation. Petitioner’s multiple medical experts found the decedent to have died as a result of his toxic 9/11 exposures, as evidenced by coal dust found throughout his body during an autopsy, including his lungs, and other scientific indicators that demonstrated that his body, particularly his heart, had been weakened by the toxins, which lead to the cardiac event that caused his death. The Pension Fund Medical Board found the death to simply be a drowning, which was adopted by the Fund’s Board of Trustees; and in Court the respondents argued that even if the petitioner was caused to drown by a cardiac event, it was a standard heart attack, with no WTC exposure connection. The petitioner argues the black coal dust in the decedent’s body and lungs, known as anthracosis (coal miners’ disease), which was the primary factor in his death, was both a “disease of the lower respiratory tract” as well as “heavy metal poisoning”, which are both “qualifying conditions” under the under the WTC Law, and thus the death was WTC related. The Court held in reversing the lower Court and the Fund: "Although the Board of Trustees [of the pension fund] is entitled to rely on the report and recommendation of the Medical Board, the proceedings should disclose the reason for the denial, and the determination must be set forth in such manner as to permit adequate judicial review… Under the circumstances of this case, the explanation by the Medical Board was insufficient." The Court ordered that the Pension Fund Trustees to send the case back to its Medical Board to specifically address medical evidence indicating that Mr. Fernandez's drowning was precipitated by his heart condition, which was the result of respiratory distress caused by responding to the 9/11 attacks.

March 2011 - The Court found that the NYPD Pension Fund had ignored evidence, not discussed key evidence on the record, and not “fully” or “fairly” reviewed the application of a police officer whom they found to be disabled by a neurogenic bladder, but whom they denied a line of duty disability retirement pension, based on the conclusion that said condition had no causal connection to her line of duty lower back injuries; where the primary cause of said condition is lower back injuries. The Court found the Fund had ignored the reports of petitioner’s doctors and the medical realities of neurogenic bladders; including the fact that the only recognized cause of a neurogenic bladder from which petitioner suffered, was a disc herniation in the lower back which affected the nerves. The Court pointed out that petitioner had in fact submitted reports which showed she suffered a disc herniation in the lower back with nerve involvement, as a result of her line of duty injures, including a serious rear end collision; and that her doctors, including a urologist, indicated the cause of her neurogenic bladder was her line of duty spinal injuries. The Court found the respondents’ denial to be legally deficient, and held that the review which was performed was not “full” or “fair”, and indicated that the Fund’s “Board of Trustees reached its determination that there was no casual connection between petitioner’s back condition and her neurogenic bladder without any discussion on the record regarding the evidence before it.” The Court remanded the case for a legally sufficient evaluation. (Judge Anil Singh)

May 2011 - The Court found that the NYPD Pension Fund's denial of the petitioner's World Trade Center disability pension application for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was arbitrary and capricious and was not based on substantial or credible evidence. The petitioner had been in World Trade Center 1 on September 11, 2001, when the first plane hit Tower 2. He and his partner evacuated the 20th-29th floors and were descending an interior staircase when the second plane hit Tower 1 and sent debris and soot down through the stairwell which shook as a result of the impact and explosion. They then gave aid to the injured on the ground floor and escorted civilians from the building to a triage which they helped set up in the Millenium Hotel. Petitioner entered 2 World Trade Center three more times during his evacuation efforts and narrowly escaped the collapse. He was caught up in the soot and debris cloud when the first building fell; at which time he rushed himself and 20 other evacuees to a refuge on Vesey Street. Petitioner's police car was crushed by the falling towers. He received accommodations for his heroism on 9/11. During his 32 years as a police officer, he had been awarded numerous awards and accommodations. Petitioner spent almost 2,000 hours at the World Trade Center site doing rescue, recovery and clean-up work thereafter. After retiring in 2002, he began showing signs of, and first sought treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program in 2003, and the again in 2005. In support of his disability pension application, petitioner submitted an abundance of evidence from numerous psychological doctors with whom he had a long standing treatment relationship; included in which were numerous psychological diagnostic tests which demonstrated his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He also submitted his Social Security Disability approval which was based on his 9/11 psychological disorders, which included major depression and panic disorder, in addition to his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Nevertheless, the Police Pension Fund Medical Board found him not disabled for full duty police work on four separate occasions [prior to retaining an attorney]. It was pointed out to the Police Pension Fund's Board of Trustees [by counsel] that none of the Medical Board exams lasted more than 10 minutes, as petitioner offered to verify via sign in and sign out sheets. Moreover, petitioner indicated to the Board of Trustees that the Medical Board essentially presented no questions to him regarding his actual psychological conditions. The Court found that the Medical Board had ignored extensive credible evidence and had disregarded the fact that said evidence did include psychological diagnostic testing. Moreover, the Court found the Medical Board offered no explanation or reasoning for its denial and concluded that the Medical Board's findings did not reflect that they had considered all relevant evidence. In addition, the Court found that the Pension Fund's Board of Trustees had also acted arbitrarily and capriciously and without an evidentiary basis, in adopting the Medical Board's recommendation for denial. The Court remanded the matter to the Police Pension Fund for a legally sufficient review in keeping with its decision.

May 2011 - The Court found that the NYPD Pension Fund’s denial of the petitioner’s application for Accident Disability Retirement benefits for her fall on loose wires strewn across the doorway of the women’s locker room in her police command, was legally deficient, and remanded the case for further consideration in keeping with the strongly worded decision. The Court found that the Fund’s Board of Trustees had applied an improper standard of an “accident” for disability pension purposes, versus an “incident”, in deeming the petitioner’s fall to be an incident rather than an accident and thereby retiring her on an Ordinary Disability pension rather than an Accident Disability pension, for the disabling injuries she sustained in the fall. It was the finding of the Court that the Pension Fund Board of Trustees “used an improper standard for determining whether the incident that resulted in petitioner’s disability was an accident.” The Court went on to state that “there is no evidence in the record to suggest petitioner’s injury was the result of her own willful negligence…her fall was sudden, unexpected, out of the ordinary”, which is the legal definition of an accident for pension purposes; and that “exposed loose wires are not ordinarily strung across the floor of a locker room, and one does not ordinarily fall to the floor upon leaving the bathroom.” The Court concluded by stating that the petitioner was entitled to an ADR pension on remand if her disability was found to be the proximate result of an accident that was not caused by her own willful negligence, and that a review of the case was to be done by the Board of Trustees in accordance with the decision.

June 2011 - The Court found that the NYPD Pension Fund's denial of the petitioner's application for Accident Disability Retirement and award of Ordinary Disability Retirement was arbitrary and capricious and found that the Pension Fund had failed to consider key evidence, and failed to put forth any discussions of key issues and elements of the case. The petitioner was a 15 year NYPD veteran when she was assaulted in the line of duty while effectuating an arrest and sustained spinal injuries. She immediately thereafter sought medical treatment for spinal pain and symptomology and was shortly thereafter placed on light duty. After being kept on light duty for an extended period, the NYPD eventually submitted her disability retirement papers for her. All of her medical care for her spinal condition, which continued to deteriorate following her injury, was paid for by the NYPD as line of duty related. Nevertheless, it was the finding of the Police Pension Fund that while she did have a disability of the spine, it had absolutely no causal connection to her line of duty spinal injury, and was simply the result of a preexisting condition. The Court remanded the case for further consideration based on its conclusion that there was a total failure to consider whether the petitioner's disability exacerbated a preexisting condition which was formally non-symptomatic.

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April 2012 – The Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the Supreme Court, New York County, which found the NYPD Pension Fund had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in refusing an NYPD Detective's request to re-open his disability pension application, which had been closed one month before while he was still in the hospital recovering from a major heart attack and the placement of 5 stents, to include his heart condition; where the heart attack occurred less than 6 months after his retirement, following a 24.5 year career, and where the heart condition was previously undiagnosed because of improper heart testing. It was petitioner's claim that the Pension Fund was aware of his heart attack and hospitalization and ought to have amended his application which was for a leg condition, where evidence of cardiac testing was also present; or at the very least, kept his application open until he was capable of taking the appropriate actions regarding his heart condition in connection therewith. The Court found petitioner ought to have the opportunity to have the Pension Fund evaluate whether his heart condition is line of duty related, under the ‘Heart Bill'. The Appellate Court's decision affirmed the lower Court’s order instructing the Pension Fund to re-open the application and allow for the amendment, so that the petitioner's heart disability claim can be considered.

May 2012 – The Court found in favor of the petitioner and against the Board of Education Retirement System, and vacated the System’s denial of the petitioner's application for a Disability Retirement pension, and remanded her application to the System for reconsideration. The petitioner was a School Aide with serious spinal injuries and issues. Petitioner alleged that the multiple reviews of her application performed by the Retirement System were legally deficient, and that the System’s disability pension process as a whole was flawed, as there was seemingly no overseeing body, like a Board of Trustees. The petitioner also argued that she was not provided with pertinent medical reports from System doctors in connection with their recommendations for denial; and only obtained the reports during the Court action; and that said reports showed the doctors had not reviewed key records submitted and had given no explanation for their determinations.

June 2012 – The Appellate Division, First Department, agreed with the Supreme Court, New York County, which found the NYPD Pension Fund had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in once again, following a prior Court decision in favor of petitioner, failing to properly consider the disability pension application of a police officer who suffered multiple head and neck injuries as a result of several on the job assaults, a stairway collapse, and a fall from a fence during a foot pursuit, and who suffered vertigo symptoms immediately following the final two accidents, and suffered the same on a regular basis thereafter, but where the Fund said the vertigo had no connection to the line of duty injuries. The Court, in a scathing and detailed decision, criticized the Fund for its handling of the matter, particularly its blatant failures with regard to considering key evidence, and in failing to explain its conclusion in light of the facts and evidence, despite a prior Court order demanding the same. The Court would not award the petitioner the pension sought, but remanded the case via the strongly worded decision, for a fair and legally proper consideration and determination as to whether the petitioner’s line of duty injuries had a causal connection to his disabling vertigo, thus entitling him to an Accident Disability Retirement pension, rather than the lesser non line of duty Ordinary Disability Retirement pension which the Fund had retired him on.

June 2012 – The Appellate Division, First Department, in a first of its kind determination, unanimously reversed the Supreme Court, New York County, and found the NYPD’s Pension Fund had acted unlawfully in denying the petitioner a World Trade Center (WTC) disability retirement pension, for his sleep apnea and heavy metal poisoning, and ordered the Pension Fund to award the petitioner a WTC pension. The Court found the Pension Fund had ignored the intent and purpose of the disability pension law known as the ‘World Trade Center Law’, as well as the presumption of WTC causation the Law creates for sick 9/11 First Responders, and had ignored medical evidence, and did not refute the Law’s presumption with credible evidence, in finding petitioner not to be disabled by his WTC breathing problems or by his WTC gastrointestinal problems, and in wholly ignoring his claims of WTC heavy metal poisoning, and by finding him to only be disabled by sleep apnea, but concluding his sleep apnea has absolutely no causal connection to the his WTC toxic exposures, or relation to his WTC breathing or gastrointestinal issues. The Court found that based on the facts and medical evidence, under the WTC Law and its presumption and protections, and other relevant disability pension laws, that it could conclude as a matter of law, that the petitioner’s sleep apnea was either caused by his WTC exposures directly, or was the result of his WTC breathing and gastrointestinal conditions, or was exacerbated to the point of disability by those conditions, and thus ordered that petitioner be awarded a WTC disability pension; with one Justice of the Court feeling the WTC award was to be based upon the petitioner’s heavy metal poisoning which it was determined had been shown to exist through uncontroverted medical evidence, and the symptoms of which mirror those of sleep apnea, and were the basis for the Pension Fund’s findings that petitioner was disabled for full duty police work; facts which the Court found the Pension Fund had wholly ignored.

September 2012 – Chet Lukaszewski, P.C. successfully compels and negotiates defendant's insurance carrier to offer monies which the firm's clients deem acceptable, in a pre-trial settlement, as compensation for a trip and fall accident at a Levittown strip-mall, in a personal injury action for pain and suffering of client-wife's physical injuries, and for resulting loss of consortium to client-husband.

October 2012 – The Court found the NYPD’s Pension Fund had once again acted unlawfully and contrary to an order of the Appellate Division First Department, which had found the Fund’s original denial of a Police Officer’s disability pension application to be improper, and had remanded the application for a legally sufficient consideration. The Appellate Court had specifically pointed to the second evaluation performed by the Fund’s Medical Board as being legally deficient, and identified key evidence which had been ignored at that time, and remanded the application back for reconsideration based on the same. On remand from the Appellate Division, the Fund remanded the application to the Medical Board for review, but claimed that it could not award the Officer a disability pension even if the Board found him to be disabled, which it once again did not; because the Officer had resigned and ceased being a Fund member after the second evaluation by the Medical Board, where it found him not disabled, based on his being told he was going to be returned to full duty, despite his serious line of duty related spinal injuries. The Court agreed with the petitioner’s contention, that the Appellate Division was aware of the resignation when it decided the case, and based upon the specific wording of the Appellate order, clearly intended for the parties to be placed in the positions they maintained at the time of the legally deficient review by the Medical Board on reconsideration, at which time petitioner was an active Pension Fund member. The Court rejected the respondents’ argument that it had mistakenly not raised the issue to the Appellate Court, that the resignation nullified the Court’s power to remand the application for a potential pension award, and thus the Court was unaware of said issue when it made its decision. The Court again remanded the case to the Police Pension Fund for further consideration, ordering that a lawful review of the application finally be done, where no evidence is to be ignored; as the Court also found that the review performed by the Medical Board on remand from the Appellate Division, was once again legally deficient for a variety of reasons. The Court also instructed that a disability pension could in fact be awarded if disability were found, based in the Appellate Court’s order which placed the parties back in the positions they held at the time of the original wrongdoing. In the strongly worded order, the Court presented its opinion that the facts seemingly demonstrated the Officer’s entitlement to line of duty disability pension, for his serious back injuries; and its hope the same would finally be awarded.

November 2012 – It was the finding of the Court that the Pension Fund once again acted arbitrarily and improperly under the controlling laws based on the facts of the case, and had ignored the instructions of the Court in previously remanding the case, where the petitioner was found to be disabled, but where it was determined by the Fund, that the disability had absolutely no connection to his dangerous and out of the ordinary line of duty efforts. The Court awarded the petitioner the higher level of disability pension.

December 2012 - The Court found the actions of the NYPD Pension Fund’s Board of Trustees to be legally deficient, in refusing to accept the conclusion of their own Medical Board that the petitioner had developed the psychological condition Somatization Disorder as a result of multiple line of duty injuries, particularly a March 2005 injury in which she incurred hand, neck, and arm injuries; and in retiring the petitioner on an Ordinary Disability Retirement while denying Accident Disability Retirement. This matter had been previously remanded to the Board of Trustees by the Court to reconsider the issue of causation. The Court in this proceeding awarded petitioner the higher level of pension benefits, based on its conclusion that the Board of Trustees determination was not supported by a rational basis or credible evidence, and that it was able to determine the petitioner’s entitlement thereto as a matter of law.

December 13, 2012 - The New York State Court of Appeals, the State’s highest Court, in a landmark decision, finds in favor of Chet Lukaszewski, P.C.’s client, NYPD Police Officer Eddie Maldanado, and the litigants in the two additional 9/11 NYPD cancer cases with which Officer Maldanado’s case was combined (Bitchatchi and Macri); and orders that each be awarded World Trade Center line of duty disability retirement (and death) benefits. The Court, in a first of its kind ruling involving the ‘World Trade Center Presumptive Law’; found the NYPD’s Pension Fund had failed to rebut the law’s presumption of causation which benefits 9/11 first responders by presuming certain illnesses and ailments, including cancer, to be the result of their 9/11 efforts; with “competent evidence”, as is required by the language of the law. The Justices of the Court put forth a definition of competent evidence which must now be applied by all New York State Courts; instructing that competent evidence sufficient to rebut the WTC Law’s presumption must be affirmative evidence which disproves causation. In its decision, the Court instructed that a conclusory opinion, or a claim of unidentified data, or a reliance on the absence of ‘proof’, will not suffice; and thereby ruled the Pension Fund had wrongly denied the applicants the benefits which they sought, and awarded the same, retroactively to the date of denial. The ruling sets a precedent which will benefit countless sick 9/11 first responders and their families in the future. (Agencies reporting on the decision include: The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Daily News, Newsday, The New York Post, Thomson Reuters, New York Law Journal)

December 2012 - The Supreme Court, New York County, found the NYPD Pension Fund’s Board of Trustees to have again acted unlawfully, following a previous Court remand, in again refusing to accept the conclusion of their own Medical Board, that the petitioner had developed the psychological condition Somatization Disorder as a result of multiple line of duty injuries, particularly a March 2005 injury in which she incurred hand, neck, and arm injuries. The Court vacated the Fund’s award of Ordinary Disability Retirement and awarded Accident Disability Retirement. The Court found the credible evidence established that the officer’s line of duty injury caused the condition and that the higher level of pension entitlement could be determined as a matter of law.

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January 2013 - The Supreme Court, Kings County, found the denial by the New York City Employees’ Retirements System, of the line of duty disability pension application of an FDNY-EMS Emergency Medical Technician, who had seriously injured his lower back while carrying a patient on a stretcher, and required a spinal fusion surgery to his lower back, to be arbitrary and capricious; and remanded the application for reconsideration, specifically, so that “in particular the Board should consider the physicality and nature of the Petitioners duties in light of the injuries sustained.”

February 2013 - The Supreme Court, New York County, for the second time, found that the NYPD Pension Fund’s denial of the petitioner’s World Trade Center disability pension application for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was arbitrary and capricious, and found that the Fund had once again improperly considered the facts and the evidence, following a previous remand by the Court. The petitioner had been in World Trade Center 1 on September 11, 2001, when the first plane hit Tower 2. He and his partner evacuated the 20th-29th floors and were descending an interior staircase when the second plane hit Tower 1 and sent debris and soot down through the stairwell which shook as a result of the impact and explosion. They then gave aid to the injured on the ground floor and escorted civilians from the building to a triage which they helped set up in the Millenium Hotel. Petitioner entered 2 World Trade Center three more times during his evacuation efforts and narrowly escaped the collapse. He was caught up in the soot and debris cloud when the first building fell; at which time he rushed himself and 20 other evacuees to a refuge on Vesey Street. Petitioner’s police car was crushed by the falling towers. He received accommodations for his heroism on 9/11. During his 32 years as a police officer, he had been awarded numerous awards and accommodations. Petitioner spent almost 2,000 hours at the World Trade Center site doing rescue, recovery and clean-up work thereafter. After retiring in 2002, he slowly began to show signs of PTSD, but hid the same and tried to manage the condition on his own for a number of years. However, it eventually became so severe that he had no choice but to seek professional help, and was thereafter provided ongoing psychological care for the serious condition. The Court found that the Pension Fund had failed to comply with its original order in again denying the petitioner’s application, and that it had once again failed to explain or justify its denial. The Court remanded the matter to the Fund for a legally sufficient review in keeping with its decision. (Disclaimer as per disciplinary rules: “prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.”)

July 2013 - The Supreme Court, Kings County, overturned the denial by the FDNY’s Pension Fund, of a petition for line of duty death benefits brought under the ‘World Trade Center Law’, and remand the application for further consideration. The application was brought by the widow of an FDNY Lieutenant who had run 9 NYC marathons, and spent hundreds of hours at the World Trade Center site, and retired in good health in 2002, but thereafter began to suffer various health issues, and eventually died in July of 2006 as a result of a complex cardiac event while playing in shallow water with his young nephew in full view of his family while on vacation, which his doctors found to be caused by the effects of his 9/11 toxic exposure injuries, which included coal dust in his lungs. The matter had been previously sent back to the Pension Fund by the Appellate Division, Second Department. In this latest decision, the Court decided that the Fund had once again failed to consider key facts and evidence, including an eye witness statement of the event, and medical reports from the petitioner’s experts which responded to the findings of the Fund’s Medical Board. The Court set forth stern and explicit instructions for handling on reconsideration.

September 2013 – The Appellate Division, First Department, ordered that an NYPD Detective be awarded a World Trade Center disability pension, retroactive to the date which the NYPD’s Pension Fund improperly denied her application; finding that under the applicable laws, particularly the recent Court of Appeals decision regarding the ‘9/11-WTC Presumptive Law’, that the Fund had not rebutted the WTC Law’s presumption that petitioner’s psychological disability was connected to her 9/11 efforts. In the case the petitioner promptly retired from the NYPD following several months of work at Ground Zero, based on psychological issues she was experiencing; and developed severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression thereafter, which she attempted to conceal for years, but which eventually became disabling. The Pension Fund despite voluminous evidence showing petitioner’s psychological ailments were connected to her 9/11 efforts, denied her a WTC pension, based upon a conclusion that she was disabled, but that the disability was not connected to her WTC work. The Court concluded in awarding petitioner the pension sought, that: “Although the Medical Board rejected the conclusion of petitioner's doctors based on her delay in seeking diagnosis and treatment for her medical condition, and concluded, instead, that petitioner suffered from a personality disorder, no credible or competent medical evidence was cited in support of this diagnosis. Moreover, the Medical Board failed to provide credible evidence or research concerning the onset of a personality disorder in middle age, a conclusion disputed by petitioner's doctor. Although the Medical Board is empowered to resolve conflicting evidence, it may not ignore medical evidence and speculate as to other causes of disabling medical conditions in order to rebut the statutory presumption.”

September 2013 - The Supreme Court, Kings County, found that the New York City Employees' Retirement System, had improperly denied an FDNY-EMS EMT who was at the World Trade Center on 9/11/01, and nearly died when the towers collapsed, and spent several hundred hours at WTC locations thereafter, and immediately began to experience severe psychological issues for which he was removed from full duty; a WTC disability pension. The Court held that the System had not properly considered the evidence, and had not rebutted the presumption of the '9/11-WTC Presumptive Law', in determining the petitioner was psychologically disabled, but that his disability had no connection to his WTC efforts and experiences, and retiring him on a non-line of duty disability pension. The Court set forth strong language in reversing the System's denial and ordering a lawful consideration of the petitioner's application.

October 2013 - The Supreme Court, New York County, found the NYPD Pension Fund had improperly denied Accident Disability Retirement pension benefits to a Lieutenant whose foot became lodged in a crack in a parking lot where he had never previously been, while performing a rapid survey of the location, including photographing the area, based upon the conclusion that the event was not an “accident” for disability pension purposes. The Court, in a detailed opinion, explained why the trip and fall did in fact meet the criteria to be deemed an accident, as opposed to an “incident” as the Fund had concluded, and thus entitled the petitioner to ADR, as opposed to a lesser Ordinary Disability Retirement pension, for the shoulder disability which resulted from the four surgeries he had to undergo as a result of the violent fall that his becoming lodged in the crack caused. The Court awarded petitioner ADR benefits.

December 2013 - The Supreme Court, Kings County, ruled that FDNY’s Pension Fund had improperly denied a retired Firefighter a World Trade Center disability retirement pension for his ‘9/11’ related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Court, in a lengthy and detailed decision, listed numerous errors and improprieties committed by the Fund in determining the petitioner was not disabled for full fire duty by his psychological issues which his doctors and FDNY doctors, with whom he had treated constantly for many years, all related to his ‘WTC’ efforts; as was presented in a voluminous collection of records submitted to the Fund in support of the application. The Court deemed the denial to be unlawful, and held that the Fund failed to present a satisfactory explanation of their reasoning for concluding that the petitioner was fit for full duty, and pointed out that the realities of full fire duty were seemingly ignored. The Court ordered that the petitioner’s application be reviewed in a full, fair, and lawful manner, in keeping with the Court order.

June 2014 - The Supreme Court, New York County, ruled that the NYPD’s Pension Fund had acted unlawfully by adopting the recommendation of its Medical Board to deny a Police Officer with severe knee injuries Accident Disability Retirement, where the Board of Trustees was notified numerous times that one of the three physicians on the Medical Board, was not present for the applicant’s examination, but still endorsed the denial. The Court ruled these actions unto themselves nullified the denial, as they were legally impermissible, and thus felt it need not even rule upon the petitioner’s extensive additional arguments as to the impropriety of the Fund’s handing and denial, including the repeated losing of records, a doctor falling asleep during an exam, false claims he did not require and utilize a knee brace on daily basis, the Medical Board finding him problem free shortly before a second knee surgery, his impending knee replacement, and his having been kept on Restricted Duty for the final 5 years of his career by the NYPD. The Court remanded the matter and ordered a lawful consideration of the application.

June 2014 - The Supreme Court, New York County, held that the NYPD’s Pension Fund had acted unlawfully in denying the Accident Disability Retirement pension of a Detective with severe shoulder, neck and bicep injuries, who had undergone multiple surgeries. It found the Fund’s Board of Trustees acted improperly in refusing to remand the Detective’s application to its Medical Board for reconsideration following the submission of strong new evidence. The Court was also notified that despite major shoulder surgery on the Detective’s dominant arm, he was nevertheless a candidate for more surgery based upon continued troubles; that he was deemed disabled for police work by six private doctors with whom petitioner had treated, nearly all of whom are Board Certified in a specialty relevant to petitioner’s disabling conditions, and a number of whom are renowned as being tops in their fields and work at prestigious hospitals; that his NYPD District Surgeon had placed him and kept him on Restricted (light) Duty, following his injury and shoulder surgery, through his retirement for Service; and that his doctors specifically notified the Pension Fund that the Medical Board was “completely ignoring” key evidence. The Court remanded the matter and ordered a lawful consideration of the application.

October 2014 – The Supreme Court, New York County, ruled that the NYPD's Pension Fund had acted in a legally deficient manner in denying the Accident Disability Retirement pension application of a Detective who had been injured multiple times in the line of duty, including a final accident which caused her to fracture her coccyx and undergo knee surgery, and as a result, had developed severe lower back and knee conditions. The Detective had presented extensive evidence demonstrating that she suffers from numerous serious knee and spine conditions. The Court ruled that the Pension Fund's Medical Board had not considered all of the evidence and had not presented a clear explanation for its no disability finding, and revered the denial remanded the application for a awful evaluation.

November 2014 - The Supreme Court, New York County, held that the NYPD's Pension Fund's Board of Trustees and its Medical Board, had acted unlawfully in denying Accident Disability Retirement, while approving Ordinary Disability Retirement, to a 41 year old Police Officer who required a three level fusion in his neck just two years after a violent head and neck injury in the line of duty, following which he suffered from neck and upper extremity issues, prior to which he had never experienced any neck issues. The Judge found that the Fund had essentially ignored the detailed explanation of the petitioner's surgeon, a renowned New York spine specialist, which demonstrated how the evidence established that the traumatic injury almost certainly exacerbated asymptomatic pre-existing conditions to the point of requiring major life altering surgery. The strongly worded decision condemned the implication by the respondents' that it was purely a coincidence that petitioner required said surgery following the accident, but that there was no connection between the two. The matter was remanded for a lawful consideration of the application.

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April 2015 - The Supreme Court, New York County, held that the NYC Teachers' Retirement System's denial of the petitioner's Accident Disability Retirement application for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from a violent student attack to be unlawful, in a case where the System's Medical Board without explanation, ignored its own independent psychological expert who found the petitioner to be psychologically disabled as a result of the incident, the second of its type which petitioner suffered. The Court found the System and its Medical Board had acted arbitrarily and capriciously and remanded the application for a lawful consideration.

February 2016 - The Supreme Court, New York County, held that the NYPD's Pension Fund had improperly denied a World Trade Center disability pension application, by deeming the petitioner's obstructive sleep apnea, which it found to disable him for full duty police work, not to be a 9/11-WTC related condition. The Court stated that it was a WTC condition based upon the a prior Appellate Court decision which found it to be, a Court of Appeals' decision providing instruction as to how the 'WTC Disability Law' is to interpreted, extensive medical research and scientific literature showing the connection between obstructive sleep apnea and toxic exposure injuries, and every national health agency along with the 9/11 Victims' Compensation Fund recognizing it to be a WTC condition. The Court remanded the application to the Fund with strict instructions for it to be reconsidered in a legally sufficient manner.

March 2016 - The Supreme Court, Kings County, once again found in favor of the widow of an FDNY Lieutenant, and declared the denial by the FDNY's Pension Fund of her application for line of duty 9/11 death benefits pursuant to the 'World Trade Center Law', to be unlawful. In its decision the Court awarded said benefits retroactive to 2007, the original date of denial; and ruled that the Fund was to be sanctioned for acting in bad faith, specifically the widow was to be awarded attorney's fees and interest on the monies owed. Prior to his sudden and untimely death at age 52, the Lieutenant had run 9 NYC marathons, before spending hundreds of hours at the World Trade Center site. He retired in good health in 2002, but thereafter began to suffer various health issues. He died unexpectedly in July of 2006 while playing in shallow water with his young nephew in full view of his family while on vacation. Numerous experts found the death to have been as the result of a complex cardiac event, caused by the effects of his 9/11-WTC toxic exposure injuries, which included abundant coal dust in his lungs. The widow's application was denied in 2007, and she brought her first legal challenge, which resulted in the Appellate Division, Second Department, deeming the Fund's denial to be unlawful, and remanding the matter to the Pension Fund for proper consideration. On remand the Fund denied the application again, which forced the widow to bring a second legal challenge, wherein the Supreme Court found in her favor and again remanded the matter to the Fund. The Fund then once again denied the application, forcing a third lawsuit to be brought. In its decision the Court, held that the Fund had again, nine years after the original application denial, improperly consider the application and ignored the prior rulings of the Courts. In a lengthy, detailed, and extremely strongly worded Order, the Court awarded the widow benefits retroactive to 2007, and sanctioned the Fund having acted in bad faith.

July 2016 - The Supreme Court, New York County, ruled in a strongly worded decision, that the NYPD's Pension Fund had acted unlawfully in determining a Police Officer did not show himself to be disabled for police work, and thus denying him an Accident Disability Retirement pension. The Officer suffered a serious line of duty knee injury after which he never returned to full duty. He underwent two knee surgeries and has been told by his doctors he will need a knee replacement in the future. Following his accident he was kept on Restricted Duty for the final five years of his career by NYPD doctors who felt he could not safely perform the full duty requirements of an NYPD Officer. This was the second successful lawsuit brought the Officer relating to his disability pension application; in the first the Court also vacated the Fund's denial and remanded the application, based upon the Fund's Medical Board failing to the legally required number of doctors present for an examination. The Court in this instance condemned the actions of the Fund and its doctors, for treating the petitioner unfairly and failing to properly apply the disability pension laws, which the Court emphasized are meant to protect those whose job is to protect the general public. The Court remanded the matter with strict handling instructions and ordered a lawful consideration of the application.

August 2016 - The Supreme Court, New York County, ruled that the NYPD's Pension Fund had acted improperly in denying a NYPD Detective a line of duty Accident Disability Retirement pension, for a disabling neck condition which resulted in his undergoing multiple surgeries. The Court found that the Fund failed to consider whether a violent line of duty auto accident, in the wake of which the Detective began to experience neck related symptomology, prior to which he had no neck issues; at the very least, exacerbated a pre-existing asymptomatic neck condition. The Court remanded the case for lawful consideration.

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January 2017 - The Supreme Court, New York County, ruled that the NYPD's Pension Fund had acted arbitrarily and capriciously, and had ignored a prior Court order, calling for a lawful evaluation of the disability pension application of a Police Officer, and awarded the pension. The Court ruled that the Officer, who required a three level fusion in his neck at the age of 41, just two years after a violent head and neck injury in the line of duty, following which he suffered from neck and upper extremity issues, prior to which he had never experienced any neck issues; had shown the line of duty injury was causally connected to his disability. The Court held that the Fund had once again ignored the facts and evidence in offering only a lesser non-line of duty Ordinary Disability Retirement pension; and condemned the Fund's actions in awarding the Officer Accident Disability Retirement.

July 2017 - The Supreme Court, Kings County, ruled that the FDNY's Pension Fund had acted arbitrarily and capriciously, in denying a FDNY Lieutenant a line of duty Accident Disability Retirement pension. The case was based upon the Fund's Medical Board having determined in July of 2012, that the petitioner was "permanently" disabled by his back condition, which was structural in nature; but opined he was only entitled to a non-line of duty Ordinary Disability Retirement pension, finding the condition was unrelated to his multiple line of duty back injuries, including his final one, after which he never returned to full duty; but then in April of 2014, after petitioner hired Chet Lukaszewski who advocated there was a connection between the injuries and the disability, thus warranting line of duty disability approval, the Board altered its opinion, and said the petitioner was only "currently" disabled. The change of determination came despite the Board acknowledging the petitioner continued to suffer from degenerative disc disease, which is a condition that develops over time, and does not improve, but rather continues to deteriorate; thus, seemingly making it impossible for a permanent disability based on said condition to simply go away. The Board's new finding was that petitioner was currently disabled by "mechanical low back pain", which could be remedied with treatment; despite the fact that mechanical back pain is pain emanating from spinal joints, discs, or vertebrae, which has been present less than 4 to 6 weeks, and petitioner had first been found disabled over two years prior, and during that time had led a sedentary lifestyle because of his condition, and yet a disability was still found to exist, albeit, now a temporary one. The Court remanded the case for proper and lawful consideration.

September 2017 - The Supreme Court, Kings County, ruled that the New York City Employees' Retirement System had improperly denied Chet Lukaszewski P.C.'s client, Accident Disability Retirement, based upon the conclusion his disability is not causally related, at least in part, to a line of duty train accident, and instead is purely the result of his non-LOD motorcycle accident, and remanded the matter to NYCERS for proper consideration; where the petitioner had returned to work after the motorcycle accident, in the physical job title of Maintenance Supervisor II, and was performing the majority of his full duty requirements, including field work such as relocating trains in train yards, and was anticipating returning to full duty in the near future when the train accident occurred. The case originated when, without warning, after having lived on his disability pension and Workers' Compensation and Social Security Disability benefits for two decades, NYCERS notified petitioner he'd been overpaid $186,199.35 in pension monies, and that recoupment was to start immediately, via the suspension of his pension. A previous Court challenge ensued, where it was determined the recoupment was technically legally permissible, but that petitioner's original disability pension application was not properly considered, as he was only considered for Ordinary Disability Retirement, and not Accident Disability Retirement. Petitioner was under the impression he was receiving the higher level of disability pension, and that misunderstanding, resulted in his not realizing he was being overpaid on the lesser pension. If petitioner is approved for Accident Disability Retirement on remand, his debt and pension suspension will be nullified.

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