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Brain-damaged pilot’s comp appeal denied on technical grounds


A New York appeals court upheld the denial of a workers compensation claim filed by an airline pilot who said he developed brain damage from inhaling toxic fumes.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York on Thursday denied an appeal by pilot David Dunlap, who filed a comp claim against his employer, JetBlue Airways Corp., after developing neurological disorders.

The appeals court ruled on technical grounds, finding Mr. Dunlap failed to offer a complete response to a question on his application for review to the Workers’ Compensation Board.

After Mr. Dunlap filed his comp claim in October 2019, a comp judge found he failed to establish work-related injury causation. Mr. Dunlap appealed to the board in August 2021, but the board denied his application for review, finding that Mr. Dunlap didn’t identify a written report of a toxicologist who reviewed his medical records for the airline.

Mr. Dunlap appealed. The appellate court found the board committed no error since it was permitted to adopt “reasonable rules consistent with and supplemental to” the state’s comp law.

The court ruled the board properly denied the comp claim because Mr. Dunlap failed to identify – by date, name and other information – the employer’s toxicologist’s report despite challenging the report’s admissibility and findings.  

In a footnote, the court said legislators recently changed the law to prevent technical omissions from being grounds for claims and review denials, but that the law went into effect after Mr. Dunlap’s case and was not retroactive.