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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. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  2. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

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  4. Dear Fan, let me help you correct the title to your post. "ACLU is [Left] most of the time" will render it accurate. Just google it if you doubt that I am, err, "right" about this: "By the mid-1930s, Roger Nash Baldwin had carved out a well-established reputation as America’s foremost civil libertarian. He was, at the same time, one of the nation’s leading figures in left-of-center circles. Founder and long time director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Baldwin was a firm Popular Fronter who believed that forces on the left side of the political spectrum should unite to ward off the threat posed by right-wing aggressors and to advance progressive causes. Baldwin’s expansive civil liberties perspective, coupled with his determined belief in the need for sweeping socioeconomic change, sometimes resulted in contradictory and controversial pronouncements. That made him something of a lightning rod for those who painted the ACLU with a red brush." http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/roger-baldwin-2/ "[George Soros underwrites the ACLU' which It supports open borders, has rushed to the defense of suspected terrorists and their abettors, and appointed former New Left terrorist Bernardine Dohrn to its Advisory Board." http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1237 "The creation of non-profit law firms ushered in an era of progressive public interest firms modeled after already established like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") and the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") to advance progressive causes from the environmental protection to consumer advocacy." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cause_lawyering

  5. Mr. Foltz: Your comment that the ACLU is "one of the most wicked and evil organizations in existence today" clearly shows you have no real understanding of what the ACLU does for Americans. The fact that the state is paying out so much in legal fees to the ACLU is clear evidence the ACLU is doing something right, defending all of us from laws that are unconstitutional. The ACLU is the single largest advocacy group for the US Constitution. Every single citizen of the United States owes some level of debt to the ACLU for defending our rights.

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