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Stojanov v. Eastman Kodak Co.

NEW YORK SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, THIRD DEPARTMENT


April 1, 2010

IN THE MATTER OF THE CLAIM OF PETAR STOJANOV, APPELLANT,
v.
EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY ET AL., RESPONDENTS. WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD, RESPONDENTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kavanagh, J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Calendar Date: February 17, 2010

Before: Peters, J.P., Malone Jr., Kavanagh, McCarthy and Garry, JJ.

Appeals from two decisions of the Workers' Compensation Board, filed July 10, 2008, which ruled that claimant's applications for review were untimely.

Claimant was involved in two work-related accidents in 1981 sustaining injuries to his back and right shoulder. The claims for both injuries were closed in 1982 with a finding being entered of "no medical evidence of causally related disability or permanency." Twenty-six years later in 2008, the cases were reopened and liability was transferred to the Special Fund for Reopened Cases (see Workers' Compensation Law § 25-a). By decisions dated May 7, 2008, a Workers' Compensation Law Judge concluded that "medical treatment and care as necessary" would otherwise be authorized, but denied the claim for compensation because Workers' Compensation Law § 123*fn1 applied to this proceeding.*fn2 On June 6, 2008, claimant's counsel mailed two applications seeking Workers' Compensation Board review of these two decisions (see Workers' Compensation Law § 23). Because the applications were not received by the Board within 30 days, the Board found that they were untimely (see 12 NYCRR 300.13 [a], [e]) and denied claimant's requests for Board review. Claimant now appeals.

We reverse. Workers' Compensation Law § 23 provides that a party "may within thirty days after notice of the filing of an award or decision of a referee, file with the [B]oard an application in writing for a modification or rescission or review of such award or decision, as provided in this chapter." In Matter of McLaughlin v Saga Corp. (242 AD2d 393, 394 [1997]), this Court concluded that the mailing of an application for Board review within the 30-day limitation period "was sufficient to satisfy the time limitation of Workers' Compensation Law § 23."

Subsequently, the Board promulgated the current version of 12 NYCRR 300.13 (a), which provides that an "application is deemed filed with the [B]oard on the date of actual receipt of such application by the [B]oard" (emphasis added). This amendment is obviously at odds with this Court's holding in McLaughlin and, as such, violates the rule that "[a] court's affirmance or reversal of an administrative body's interpretation of its governing statute becomes binding on the agency" (Matter of Cohen [City of N.Y. Bd of Educ. - Roberts], 92 AD2d 641, 642 [1983], appeal dismissed 59 NY2d 970 [1983]; see Matter of McNeill [Board of Educ. of City School Dist. of City of N.Y. -Roberts], 88 AD2d 1050, 1051 [1982], affd 58 NY2d 959 [1983]). Therefore, the Board could not promulgate an administrative regulation that was inconsistent with this Court's interpretation of Workers' Compensation Law § 23, and we must reverse the Board's determination that claimant's applications for Board review, filed June 6, 2008, were untimely.

Peters, J.P., Malone Jr., McCarthy and Garry, JJ., concur.

ORDERED that the decisions are reversed, without costs, and matter remitted to the Workers' Compensation Board for further proceedings not inconsistent with this Court's decision.


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