Widow not entitled to benefits for death 12 years after injury

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    Reprints

    claims dispute

    The widow of a corrections officer failed to show that a workplace injury 12 years earlier was causally related to his heart failure and subsequent death.

    In Matter of Turner v. New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Third Department in Albany, New York on Thursday unanimously affirmed the decision of the New York Workers Compensation Board, which denied death benefits to the widow.

    Holly Turner filed a claim for workers compensation death benefits after the death of her husband in 2016, a former corrections officer. The officer had last worked for the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in 2004, and had been classified as permanently partially disabled in 2007.

    She alleged that his disability from the workplace injury and associated sedentary lifestyle and weight gain contributed to his death.

    A workers compensation law judge denied the claim, holding that Ms. Turner provided insufficient evidence to show that his injury 12 years earlier was casually-related to his death. The New York Workers Compensation Board upheld the decision.

    She appealed, but the appellate affirmed the board’s decision. Although Ms. Turner relied on a statement from her husband’s physician stating that it “was more likely than not” that her husband’s pain and interrupted sleep was casually related to his prior work injuries, in her deposition the physician acknowledged that the former officer had a history of smoking and chronic hypertension and had been noncompliant with his treatment regimen.

    The court noted that the officer’s death occurred years after is employment — with hypertensive heart disease listed as the cause of death — and held that the physician’s opinion was insufficient to support a finding that his workplace injury was causally related to his death.