WILLIAMS v. NEW YORK STATE WORKERS COMPENSATION BOARD (2018)
Supreme Court, New York County, New York.
Jomo WILLIAMS, Petitioner, v. NEW YORK STATE WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD, New York State Insurance Fund, Future Voice & Data, Special Fund, Fund for Reopen Cases, Uninsured Employee Fund, Advocate for Injured Workers, Special Disability Fund, John Does, Respondents.
Decided: June 18, 2018
Petitioner: Jomo Williams, appearing pro se Respondent: Marjorie S. Leff, Office of the Attorney General, 28 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10005
In this Article 78 proceeding, petitioner seeks the reopening of his Workers' Compensation claim for the redetermination of benefits and hourly wages and to compel respondents to pay for outstanding medical bills. Respondents cross-move for an order to dismiss the petition under Workers' Compensation Law (WCL) § 23 and § 32 for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. For the reasons stated below, the petition is denied and the cross-motion to dismiss is granted.
On February 12, 2013, petitioner was injured on the job when a ceiling collapsed. Petitioner completed a worker's compensation claim form (Employee Claim C–3) dated February 20, 2013, indicating his gross pay was approximately $800 on a biweekly basis. In a Notice of Decision dated July 22, 2013, the Workers' Compensation Board (“Board”) determined New York State Insurance Fund (“NYSIF”), as carrier for the employer, had to continue weekly payments of $239 to petitioner. On February 7, 2017, petitioner and respondent signed a WCL § 32 Waiver Agreement, in which petitioner resolved the case via settlement and executed a release for the sum of $50,000 minus $6,795 in attorney fees. Petitioner, his counsel, and NYSIF signed the waiver agreement which stated that the settlement, “if approved by the workers' compensation board, is conclusive, final and binding on all of the parties involved.” On June 27, 2017, a hearing was held before a Workers' Compensation Law Judge (“WCLJ”). Petitioner, with his counsel present, confirmed that he understood the agreement and realized it would become final ten days after initial approval if he did not object. Petitioner also confirmed he understood all future medical expenses would become his responsibility. The WCLJ approved the Waiver Agreement and reiterated that petitioner had a ten-day time frame to object. On July 14, 2017, after no objections, the waiver agreement was approved by the Board and the agreement became final and conclusive on all parties.
In the current motion, petitioner challenges the settlement he knowingly entered, claiming that NYSIF improperly calculated the final amount by basing it on a $9 per hour wage instead of a $28 per hour wage. This Court holds that under WCL § 23, the Third Department has the exclusive jurisdiction to review final Board awards and orders. Empire Ins. Co. v. Workers' Comp. Bd., 201 AD2d 425, 426–27 (NY App. Div. 1986). Therefore, this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to grant petitioner's requests for relief regarding the reopening of his case and the redetermination of benefits and hourly wage. Furthermore, even if this Court were to decide on the merits, under WCL § 32, petitioner signed and failed to object to the settlement within ten days, thereby creating a binding agreement. All other arguments advanced by the petitioner are subsumed in this decision and do not require individual addressing.
Accordingly, it is hereby
ORDERED that the petition is denied; and it further
ORDERED that the respondents' cross-motion to dismiss the petition is granted.
This constitutes the decision and order of this Court.
Carmen Victoria St. George, J.
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