Ugo Bellomo v. Board of Trustees, Police and Fireman’s Retirement System

Regarding the case: Ugo Bellomo v. Board of Trustees, Police and Firemen’s Retirement System

I. Facts:

  1. On January 2007, petitioner was operating a marked patrol vehicle in pursuit of a suspected drug dealer, when the vehicle slid on loose gravel and struck a pole allegedly causing injury. The petitioner continued to work after collision.
  2. On November 3, 2012, while off duty, petitioner was cut off by another driver on a local road. At a stop light the petitioner/off duty police officer pointed service weapon at the driver.
  3. Five months later, on March 15, 2013, a grand jury indicted petitioner with a charge of 4th degree aggravated assault.
  4. On April 2, 2013, Newark Police Department issued PNDA seeking termination of petitioner’s employment due to his indictment.
  5. On June 2013, the petitioner applied for PTI for the 4th degree criminal charges pending against him.
  6. On September 30, 2013, petitioner applied for accidental disability retirement benefits, based ONLY on the 2007 incident.
  7. On October 6, 2014, the board denied petitioner’s application.
  8. At the time of the Board’s denial of the accidental disability pension claim, the board was not aware of the plaintiff’s indictment and disciplinary charges.
  9. At the time of the Board appeal before an ALJ, the court accepted Dr. Boiardo’s opinions about petitioner had restricted range of motion in his neck, lower back, and shoulders.
  10. Vines found multi-level lumbar disc degeneration with advanced disruption and an extruded disc on the left side.
  11. After hearing all the testimony and objective medical evidence of disability, the ALJ ruled petitioner was totally and permanently disabled as a direct result of the 2007 accident.
  12. The board rejected the initial decision because the ALJ did not admit the information about petitioner’s criminal matter into evidence.
  13. On October 16, 2014, Board noted when petitioner’s application was sent in they did not know about the indictment.
  14. On November 9, 2016, the ALJ reversed the prior accidental disability retirement award finding the timing of petitioner’s retirement application “to be suspicious.”
  15. ALJ concluded it was more probable than not petitioner left this employment because of his criminal case and not because of physical disability.
  16. Petitioner’s August 29, 2013 cervical MRI and September 5, 2013 lumbar spine MRI indicated petitioner’s condition had not progressed post-accident MRI’s in 2009.
  17. The ALJ also noted there was no evidence the petitioner was seeking continuous medical attention from the 2007 accident until the present.
  18. This appellate court affirmed the ALJ finding:
    1. The ALJ decision was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable;
    2. Petitioner was not credible about leaving because of a disability;
    3. The medical conditions have not progressed since 2007;
    4. Petitioner’s attorney stated he informed petitioner about the loss of job from PTI;
    5. The board’s decision was that petitioner was not totally and permanently disabled.

II. Ruling

The judged decided that the petitioner’s timing of his application and knowledge of what PTI did was suspicious. Even though the petitioner had experts examine and take the MRIs, the petitioner had not convinced the judge of a true disability. The appellate agreed with the judge in the matter of the decision was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable.

Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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