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A Baltimore police officer is eligible for a disability retirement for injuries suffered in the line of duty after he was diagnosed with memory loss and attention deficits following a work-related concussion, an appeals court in Maryland ruled Friday.
In reversing an earlier Court of Special Appeals ruling that found the officer ineligible because of state statutes dating back to 1966 regarding mental injuries bars such workers compensation and disability claims, the latest ruling of the Court of Appeals of Maryland found that current science and medical evidence point to brain injuries as physical injuries, according to the ruling in Carlos Couret-Rios, v. Fire & Police Employees' Retirement System of the City Of Baltimore, filed in Annapolis, Maryland.
As a result of the brain injury suffered while performing police duties, Carlos Couret-Rios was diagnosed with memory loss and attention deficits. He had filed for disability benefits after a hearing examiner concluded that he was permanently physically incapacitated. Upon denial, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City affirmed, but the Court of Special Appeals reversed, holding that his incapacities were “mental, rather than physical,” according to documents.
The appeals court, in reversing and granting benefits, wrote that the older state codes did not intend to solidify the interpretation of what constitutes a mental injury versus that of a compensable physical one, that science can change the meaning. “There are likely numerous examples of symptoms once labeled a ‘mental incapacity’ that are now known to be manifestations of a physical incapacity,” Friday’s ruling states.
“We therefore conclude that the definition of ‘physical incapacity’ includes, in certain circumstances, manifestations of a physical incapacity caused by a brain injury,” the ruling states. “Here, Officer Couret-Rios' brain was physically injured and incapacitated which manifested in post-concussion syndrome and memory and attention deficit.”
A cafeteria worker is entitled to service-connected disability retirement benefits.