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Divided appeals court affirms disabled firefighter’s enhanced PERF benefit

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A Brownsburg firefighter is entitled to disability benefits that a trial court enhanced after an appeal from the local pension board, a divided court of appeals panel ruled Tuesday.

The appeals court ruled that Marion Superior Judge Michael Keele did not err when ruling that Paul Bryson was entitled to “level 1” disability benefits from the Indiana Professional Employees Retirement Fund. Keele’s ruling came after Bryson appealed a determination by an administrative law judge that Bryson was entitled to lesser “level 2” benefits because he had a pre-existing back condition that contributed to injuries he sustained on the job.

Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote for the majority in Indiana Public Employee Retirement Fund v. Paul Bryson, 49A04-1201-MI-2. “We conclude that a fund member who was able to perform his job duties before an on-duty injury despite having a pre-existing condition or health issue that preceded the on-duty injury, and who becomes unable to perform his job duties only after sustaining an on-duty injury, has an impairment that is the ‘direct result’ of the physical injury or injuries sustained while on duty."

Bryson’s “covered impairment is the ‘direct result’ of his three on-duty personal injuries for the purposes of Indiana Code section 36-8-8-12.5(b)(1) and the trial court did not err in setting aside PERF’s determination otherwise,” Robb wrote.

Judge Cale Bradford dissented. He wrote that the majority interpreted the statute correctly, but he disagreed that Bryson’s covered impairment met the "direct result" standard. Bradford said the record shows Bryson is unable to continue to work as a firefighter because of pain from his pre-existing condition.

“Given Bryson’s safety-sensitive position as a firefighter, this risk renders him unable to perform the duties of his employment. The record supports the conclusion that, among other things, Bryson’s work as a firefighter generally contributed to his degenerative disc disease. Therefore, he should be entitled to Class 2 coverage,” Bradford wrote. “I would reverse the trial court’s judgment and affirm the agency’s decision on these other grounds.”



 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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