Officer's voluntary retirement sinks entitlement to supplemental benefits
Case name: Tusa v. City of Kenner Police Department, No. 10-CA-791 (La. Ct. App. 05/10/11).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a police officer was not entitled to supplemental earnings benefits, penalties, and attorney's fees for his work-related knee injury.
What it means: In Louisiana, evidence that a worker did not retire due to a work-related injury will prevent the worker from collecting supplemental earnings benefits.
Summary: A police officer for a city was called to investigate an incident involving a violent patient in a hospital emergency room. The officer fell to the floor and injured his knee and shoulder while attempting to apprehend the patient. The officer underwent knee surgery. He was released initially to sedentary employment and later to full active duty with no restrictions. The next year, the officer said that the restrictions imposed on him prevented him from doing certain duties of his job. The officer said that he reached 35 years of service with the police department and was entitled to a pension. He said he decided to retire because he could no longer perform his job. The officer sought supplemental earnings benefits, penalties, and attorney's fees. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that the officer was not entitled to benefits, penalties, or attorney's fees because he did not show he was disabled due to his injury.
The court explained that the evidence showed that the officer voluntarily retired. The officer performed active-duty work without restrictions for 15 months before he resigned. When he indicated his plan to resign to the chief, he did not state that he was resigning due to disability. Also, the chief said that if he knew the officer had a disability, he would have offered him a job after retirement as a process server. The evidence showed that he retired based on 35 years of service, and the court noted that a retirement party was held in his honor.
Additionally, prior to the resignation, the officer's physician did not indicate that he recommended the officer quit working. The physician eventually indicated that the officer's work-related injury contributed to his retirement in a letter prepared nine months after the retirement.
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June 30, 2011
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