On October 13, 2009, the Appellate Division decided Raymond Joseph Foster, III v. Board of Trustees, Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, Docket No.: A-5666-07T2. In the case, Raymond Joseph Foster, III, a member of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (“PFRS”), appealed from the final decision of the Board of Trustees (“Board”), upholding the May 5, 2008 initial decision of Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Jeff Masin, finding that Foster “has failed to meet his burden to prove that the total and permanent disability from which he suffers is the direct result of the injuries received in the traumatic event [Foster suffered on March 5, 2002].”
Foster started working as a Bordentown Township police officer in February 1998. On March 5, 2002 at 9:51 p.m., Foster was injured in a motor vehicle accident, while working as a police officer. The police report indicated that it was a one-vehicle accident. Foster was responding to the ACME supermarket. As he entered the parking lot, he turned right, but missed the entrance and struck a light pole to the left of the entrance. At the time, Foster was thirty-seven years old.
More than four years later, in September 2006, Foster stopped working. According to Foster, he could no longer tolerate the pain, which had become more constant and excruciating. It was undisputed that Foster was totally and permanently disabled and unable to perform his work duties. Thereafter, Foster applied to the Board for accidental disability retirement benefits. The Board denied the application on the grounds that Foster’s disability was not a direct result of the automobile accident, thus he did not qualify for accidental disability benefits.
Foster challenged that decision. The matter was transferred to the Office of Administrative Law as a contested case. After hearings were conducted, ALJ Masin found that Foster’s application should be denied, concluding that Foster’s present disability was not the direct result of the accident. This appeal ensued.
On appeal, Foster contended that the decision of ALJ Masin and the Board was not supported by the evidence. The Appellate Division disagreed. Based on its review of the record, the Court found that the Board’s findings were supported by the appropriate proofs and, therefore, its decision was supported by sufficient credible evidence on the record as a whole. As such, the Board’s decision was affirmed.