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12 N.J.A.R. 120

Teachers' Pension & Annuity Fund, Board of Trustees of the; Maynard, Dianne Kay v
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Citation: 12 N.J.A.R. 120
Decision Date: 1986
Synopsis: Petitioner appealed the decision of respondent Board of Trustees, Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund, denying her application for an accidental disability retirement allowance. The matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing. Petitioner, a former teacher, is permanently and totally disabled as the result of an event that she alleges was traumatic, as required by N.J.S.A. 18A:66-39c for accidental disability retirement. The accident took place while petitioner was signing in for the day in the main office. She slipped on the waxed floor, hitting her head on a bench and landing on her back on the floor. Because of her injuries, petitioner could no longer teach. The Board granted her ordinary disability retirement benefits, but denied accidental disability retirement. The administrative law judge assigned to the case concluded that petitioner failed to meet the burden of proof and, accordingly, affirmed the denial of benefits. Petitioner's accident was a traumatic event, but, because her work day had not yet started, petitioner did not establish that the traumatic event occurred during and as a result of the performance of assigned duties. Therefore, she was not entitled to accidental disability retirement. Upon review, the Board modified this initial decision. While affirming the denial of benefits, the Board rejected the administrative law judge's characterization of petitioner's accident as a traumatic event. A 'slip-and-fall' cannot be a traumatic event unless a significant degree of height is involved, such as a fall from the top of a tall ladder. In an unreported decision, the Appellate Division reversed, finding that the event was traumatic. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the decision of the Board, holding that a slip-and-fall accident is not a traumatic event within the meaning of the accidental disability retirement statute. (The Supreme Court on the same day decided Ciecwisz v. Board of Trustees, another slip-and-fall case. See, 12 N.J.A.R. 129) Richard A. Friedman, Esq., for petitioner (Ruhlman, Butrym & Friedman, attorneys) Eileen C. Stokley, Deputy Attorney General, for respondent (W. Cary Edwards, Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney)
Citation Tracker modified-Bd. of Trustees; reversed & remanded-App. Div., A4177-85-T6, 4/2/87 (unreported); reversed -113 N.J. 169 (1988) [Updated through 1991]