Wednesday, January 16, 2008


500-pound NYPD officer loses pension bid
Judge Rules Against 500-Pound NYPD Officer in Disability Retirement Case
Staff AP News
Jan 16, 2008 18:23 EST

A judge says a retired 500-pound police officer cannot increase his pension check by blaming his disability on an accident when a medical board "rationally" found it was related to his obesity.
State Supreme Court Justice Judith Gische said the Police Pension Fund medical board's decision to deny Paul Soto's request for a larger accidental disability retirement pension was "based upon credible medical evidence."

An ordinary disability retirement pays an officer a taxable pension of half his salary. An accidental disability retirement pays a nontaxable pension of three-fourths his salary.
Soto, 40, joined the New York Police Department in August 1993, when he stood 5-foot-7 and weighed 250 pounds. In June 2004, he applied for ordinary retirement benefits, saying he was unable to function fully as a police officer because of high blood pressure, sleep apnea and morbid obesity.

The pension fund's medical board noted that Soto also suffered other physical ailments, including arthritis, osteoarthritis in his right knee, leg edema and tendinitis, and that he had been placed on limited duty.
On March 5, 2005, Soto said in court papers, he tripped over a wooden pallet in a Queens apartment building, hurting his right knee. Police termed the fall a "line of duty accident and not recommended for line of duty injury status."

In May 2005, Soto applied for accidental disability retirement benefits, based on his fall over the pallet. The medical board rejected the application, and in May 2006 it recommended that he be allowed to retire with an ordinary disability pension.
Soto, assigned in recent years to the Sixth Precinct and Manhattan courts, sued the police commissioner as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Police Pension Fund. He claimed that the fall — while he was on duty — prevented him from performing full duties as a police officer.
The board said Soto had already been found disabled in August 2004 "because he was morbidly obese and had numerous other ailments which made it impossible for him to be a police officer, including high blood pressure and narcolepsy."

The judge, noting that Soto now weighs "in excess of 500 pounds," cited the board's remark that Soto "had not performed his full duties as a police officer since 2003." She said in her ruling last month that he had been on restricted duty for his own protection.
Soto's lawyer, Philip Seelig, said Wednesday he was "disappointed" by the judge's decision. He said he had not discussed with Soto whether to appeal.
Source: AP News

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