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Duty disability benefits have been denied to a police sergeant in New York who applied for workers compensation related to a spinal staph infection one doctor said originated from a burn to his finger suffered when his pinkie came in contact with the tailpipe of his police motorcycle, according to a New York appellate court decision published Thursday.
In 2012, the police sergeant applied for accidental and performance of duty disability retirement benefits, claiming that he is permanently disabled as the result of the staph infection and subsequent spinal abscess that stemmed from the work-related burn, according to documents in Matthew Seman v. Thomas DiNapoli as State Comptroller.
He underwent spinal surgery nine days after the burn, his surgeon testifying later that the police sergeant was “more susceptible to an infection spreading in his body because he was taking the drug Enbrel for arthritis, and that the abscess could have formed within the nine days between the burn and the diagnosis of the condition.”
Another doctor however testified that the man’s infection could not have become that invasive after just nine days: “his opinion on the lack of evidence of a secondary infection at the site of the burn and that such an extensive infection of the spine could not have formed in the nine days between the burn and the diagnosis of the spinal abscess. Rather, (the doctor) opined that it would have taken several weeks for the abscess to form on petitioner's spine,” documents state.
A judge with New York’s Appellate Division, Third Department in Albany, New York, ruled that “medical evidence supports the contrary conclusion” that the pinkie burn did not cause the spinal abscess.
The attorney representing the police sergeant was unavailable for comment on Monday.
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board released revised draft impairment guidelines and proposed regulations on Wednesday.