Failure to pursue job after postinjury training dooms benefits
Petrillo v. Cooke, No. 502492 (N.Y. App. Div. 03/05/09).
Ruling: The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division found that a claimant, who sustained a permanent partial disability while working as a funeral director, voluntarily withdrew from the labor market.
What it means: A permanently partially disabled claimant who receives postinjury training in a new job, but who limits her search for employment and presents no evidence that her inability to obtain postinjury employment is related to her permanent disability, has failed to maintain an attachment to the labor market.
The claimant worked as a funeral director and injured her back and knee at work. Two years later, she was laid off due to downsizing. She did not look for a funeral director job because of her permanent impairments, and instead earned a paralegal degree. She claimed that after she earned the degree, she made an earnest attempt to find employment and sent out 21 applications. She was only able to obtain a position with a temporary employment agency. The appellate court ruled that the claimant voluntarily withdrew from the labor market and was not entitled to additional benefits.
The insurance carrier's physician reported that, during his examination of claimant, she informed him that she had "elected to not work in the paralegal field." While denying making that statement, the claimant admitted that, for an eight-month period, she limited her search for employment because she was caring for an elderly relative. Most importantly, the court pointed out, the claimant failed to show that her inability to obtain employment as a paralegal was caused by or related to her permanent disability.
April 6, 2009
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