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N.Y. appeals court affirms denial of COVID death benefits


The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York upheld a determination by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board that a woman whose husband died from COVID-19 failed to prove the virus was contracted at the workplace.

The appeals court on Thursday said the board was correct to reverse a comp judge’s decision that found the man’s death was causally related to his employment.

The worker’s widow had filed a workers comp claim for death benefits after her husband died from COVID-19 in late March 2020, soon after the pandemic was declared.  

The deceased claimant worked as a house manager for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and alleged that he started to exhibit symptoms of the virus during a scheduled vacation day two days after he last worked a shift.

He died just over two weeks later.

The appeals court said the widow failed to present evidence showing any cases of COVID-19 among those living or working in the group home where her husband was employed.

A witness for the employer even testified that the claimant was the first known COVID-19 infection at his workplace, the court noted.

The court wrote that the widow failed to meet her burden showing her husband contracted the virus in the course of his employment. It affirmed the board’s decision to deny the claim for death benefits.