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The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division has reversed a Workers’ Compensation Board decision in a case involving a New York City Transit Authority train conductor who sought comp benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder caused by witnessing a train passenger fatality.
The appeals court on Thursday remitted the case back to the comp board for further proceedings after finding the panel did not properly address issues raised by the claimant on administrative appeal.
The case involves a train conductor who filed for comp benefits after claiming he developed PTSD after witnessing a person fall between train cars and die in March 2021.
The transit authority, the self-insured employer, initially agreed to compensate the conductor with medical-only benefits, but later filed a notice of controversy arguing that there was no causal relationship between PTSD and employment and no compensable injury arising from the incident.
A comp judge had given the employer an opportunity to schedule an independent medical exam after finding evidence of PTSD, but the conductor objected, arguing the employer’s controversy notice was not timely filed, and asserting the employer’s initial acceptance of the claim should be binding.
On appeal, the Workers’ Compensation Board found that when a claim is never indexed, as was the case here, the provisions of comp law are inapplicable. It ruled the employer did not file an untimely notice of controversy.
In its ruling, however, the appeals court determined the board failed to address the issue of the employer initially accepting the comp claim, and that it offered no reasoning as to why it determined the employer’s notice of controversy was timely filed.
The court said it was precluded from undertaking any “meaningful appellate review” of the matter before the board re-examined the outstanding issues.