A 30-year old woman joined the New York Police Department in 1990, and served continuously until her retirement in 2010. In 2007, the policewoman, while assigned to the NYPD’s peddler unit, was unloading confiscated property from a truckto the NYPD’s property clerk in Queens. While lifting a box of property, the policewoman stepped back on to a shovel, which caused her to fall. The policewoman twisted her right knee and was admitted to the emergency room at a nearby hospital. The NYC hospital staff diagnosed her with a sprained knee. The knee was diagnosed to be permanently disabled, which restricted her desk duty.
The policewoman applied to the Police Pension Fund for Accident Disability Retirement but this was denied by a tie vote. Her counsel asserted that the only explanation for the shovel on the floor of the truck was someone else’s negligence; and that, accordingly, there was no reason for the policewoman to expect or foresee that the shovel would be left in a “dangerous location.”
The court held that in a challenge of a denial of disability payments, the PPF’s determination will be sustained unless it is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or contrary to law.” The court said it cannot “weigh the evidence, choose between conflicting proof, or substitute its assessment of the evidence or witness credibility for that of the administrative factfinder.”