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Permanent Inability To Return To Work Is Fatal

Isaiah Cardinale was an officer with the police department in Nutley Township, New Jersey. In December 2013, Cardinale submitted to a random drug test. Two days later, Cardinale admitted to using cocaine. The Department immediately suspended him pending the results of the test, and Cardinale successfully completed drug and alcohol treatment in Florida. In February 2014, the toxicology report demonstrated that he had tested positive for cocaine. The Department…

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Firefighter Wins $750k In Retaliation Case

Jesse Diaz was a firefighter for Trenton, New Jersey. Diaz, who is Hispanic, was well-regarded by his colleagues and supervisors, and he enjoyed their camaraderie and support. That changed after Diaz overheard a white firefighter named Plumeri use a racist term in reference to an African-American colleague. Although the colleague was not present, Diaz thought that the incident was serious, and that Plumeri should be disciplined for using racist…

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The Time Frame For Filing A PTSD Claim

Benjamin Pitts was a police officer with the City of Chandler, Arizona. In May 2013, Pitts was on duty in his patrol vehicle with his fiancée, who was participating in a ride-along. That evening, Pitts received a call that there was a man acting in a disorderly manner and possibly brandishing a gun outside Chandler Regional Hospital. The dispatcher told Pitts the man was walking up the road with…

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Police Lieutenant Must Be Able To Work Outside Office

Humberto Valdes was a lieutenant in the City of Doral, Florida Police Department. All lieutenants in the Department worked eight-hour shifts; Valdes was assigned to the afternoon shift. While on duty in March 2009, Valdes was involved in a car crash. After the crash, Valdes developed a panic disorder and began seeing a psychiatrist for treatment. From April through August 2009, the psychiatrist recommended that Valdes work on light…

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Court Upholds Limited-Duty Assignment Of Cleveland Officers Involved In High-Profile Shooting

In November 2012, thirteen police officers engaged in a high-speed car chase in Cleveland, Ohio. When the car finally came to a stop, the officers fired 139 bullets into the vehicle, killing the two African-American suspects inside. The media started reporting the story, framing it as twelve Caucasian officers and one Hispanic officer shooting and killing two unarmed African-American suspects after a high-speed car chase. The community response was…

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Paramedic’s PTSD Not Covered By Workers’ Comp

Beginning in 2002, Charles Kimzey worked as a paramedic for Vashon Island Fire and Rescue in Washington. In June 2012, Kimzey was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He then filed a claim for benefits with Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries for an “Industrial Injury or Occupational Disease.” Kimzey stated in his application that his PTSD and depression were caused by “repeated exposure to some pretty horrific incidents…over a…

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Court Rules That Seeing Suspect Killed Is ‘Normal’ For Police

Under New York law as well as the law in several other states, for a stress disability to be covered by workers’ compensation, the stress experienced by the employee must be greater than that which usually occurs in the normal work environment. A recent case involving the East Greenbush, New York, Police Department demonstrated how that legal standard effectively precludes most stress claims by law enforcement officers. The case…

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State Police Successfully Opposes Trooper’s PTSD Claim

How post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claims are treated by workers’ compensation and pension laws varies widely across the country. Some states require only that an employee prove that PTSD was caused by the job. At the other end of the spectrum, the most conservative states require that the employee actually be physically injured in the incident that caused the PTSD. Kentucky follows the “physical injury” model. So it was…

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In Some States, Physical Injury Required For PTSD Claims

The workers’ compensation or pension systems of different states have a variety of standards for evaluating claims for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One of the strictest standards requires a firefighter or law enforcement officer to prove not just that they have PTSD which has been caused by the job, but that the PTSD arose alongside of a “physical injury.” Oklahoma follows this strict standard, and as City of Norman…

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More Difficult For Police To Prove ‘Abnormal Working Conditions’

While Philip Payes, a Pennsylvania state trooper, was working on November 29, 2006, a woman who apparently was mentally disturbed ran in front of his vehicle. Payes attempted to resuscitate the woman after she was struck by his patrol car but the incident resulted in a fatality. Payes filed a workers’ compensation claim for post-traumatic stress disorder. When the State denied his claim, he challenged the denial through the…

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Infant With Throat Cut Not ‘Abnormal Working Condition’ For Trooper

In Pennsylvania, for an employee to succeed in bringing a workers’ compensation claim for a psychological disability, the employee must ordinarily show that the disability “was more than a subjective reaction to normal working conditions.” Pennsylvania courts have struggled for years trying to apply this standard to public safety employees. The case of Rodney Washington is a good example of how difficult it is for a public safety employee…

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PTSD Resulting From Spitting Incident Does Not Qualify As Accidental Disability

Under New Jersey law, public safety officers who suffer from an “accidental” disability are entitled to a higher pension than those suffering from other disabilities. In the case of stress disabilities, the rule is that the disability must result “from direct personal experience of a terrifying or horror-inducing event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a similarly serious threat to the physical integrity of the…

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Officer Loses Post-Traumatic Stress Claim

William Biasetti was a police officer with the Stamford, Connecticut Police Department. On May 24, 2005, Biasetti was involved in a high-speed car chase on Interstate 95 during a torrential rainstorm. At the conclusion of the high-speed chase, Biasetti was engaged in a gun battle with the suspects and was in fear of losing his life. During the course of the gun battle, Biasetti injured his right elbow and…

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Court Rules Against Wife Of Officer Who Committed Suicide

Dennis Walsh joined the Nassau County, New York Police Department in 1990. In 2006, after rising through the ranks to the position of Detective Lieutenant, Walsh began to exhibit signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. On October 19, 2006, Walsh committed suicide. Walsh’s widow brought a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Department, alleging that the failure of the Department to provide adequate training in suicide prevention for…

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Officer Who Accidentally Killed Fellow Officer Wins PTSD Disability

On March 25, 2005, members of the Easton, Pennsylvania Police Department SWAT team, including Matthew Renninger and Officer Jesse Sollman, returned to the Easton Police Department after a day of SWAT training and began breaking down and cleaning various weapons used that day. Renninger took his firearm, a 40-caliber handgun, out of his holster and placed it on a bench in the locker room. Renninger placed the gun on…

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