IN RE: Bruce SUTHERLAND

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

IN RE: Bruce SUTHERLAND, Appellant, v. VILLAGE OF SUFFERN, et al., Respondents.

Decided: December 31, 2001

GLORIA GOLDSTEIN, J.P., LEO F. McGINITY, HOWARD MILLER and SANDRA L. TOWNES, JJ. Bunyan & Baumgartner, LLP, Blauvelt, N.Y. (Joseph P. Baumgartner of counsel), for appellant. Terry Rice, Village Attorney, Suffern, N.Y., for respondents.

In a proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78, inter alia, to review a determination of the Chief of the Village of Suffern Police Department dated July 26, 2000, denying the petitioner benefits pursuant to General Municipal Law § 207-c, the appeal is from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Rockland County (Nelson, J.), dated December 20, 2000, which denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed, with costs.

The petitioner, a police officer, injured his shoulder when he attempted to open a door to the station house while on duty.   He applied for benefits under General Municipal Law § 207-c, and the Chief of the Village of Suffern Police Department (hereinafter the Police Chief) denied the benefits.

The Court of Appeals has stated that the purpose behind General Municipal Law § 207-c “is to compensate specified municipal employees for injuries incurred in the performance of special work related to the nature of heightened risks and duties.   These functions are keyed to ‘the criminal justice process, including investigations, pre-sentencing, criminal supervision, treatment and other preventative corrective services' ” (Matter of Balcerak v. County of Nassau, 94 N.Y.2d 253, 259, 701 N.Y.S.2d 700, 723 N.E.2d 555, quoting Senate Mem. in Support, L. 1997, ch. 675, 1997 N.Y. Legis. Ann., at 458).   Therefore, the determination of the Police Chief not to award benefits pursuant to General Municipal Law § 207-c to the petitioner for an injury sustained when he attempted to open a door to the precinct was not arbitrary or capricious (see, Matter of Balcerak v. County of Nassau, supra;  Matter of Ertner v. County of Chenango, 280 A.D.2d 851, 720 N.Y.S.2d 410).

The petitioner's argument that he should be awarded worker's compensation benefits should be addressed to the Worker's Compensation Board (see, Worker's Compensation Law § 23).

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