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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. Such things are no more elections than those in the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

  2. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  3. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  4. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  5. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

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