In the Matter of the Claim of ROBIN C. BORDONARO, Appellant,
GENESEE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, Respondent. WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD, Respondent.
Calendar Date: February 24, 2017
& Somers, PC, Rochester (Daniel A. Bronk of counsel), for
Nicosia Law, Rochester (Edward G. Nicosia of counsel), for
Genesee County Sheriff's Office, respondent.
Before: Garry, J.P., Lynch, Clark, Mulvey and Aarons, JJ.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
from a decision of the Workers' Compensation Board, filed
November 30, 2015, which ruled that decedent's death did
not arise out of and in the course of his employment and
denied claimant's claim for workers' compensation
a deputy sheriff, died while asleep at home and claimant,
decedent's spouse, applied for workers' compensation
death benefits. Following hearings, a Workers'
Compensation Law Judge established the claim. Upon review,
Board reversed and disallowed the claim, finding no causal
relationship between decedent's death and his employment.
Claimant now appeals. 
affirm. Claimant argues that the presumption of
compensability pursuant to Workers' Compensation Law
§ 21 is applicable because decedent's initial injury
occurred while he was at work (see Matter of Stevenson v
Yellow Roadway Corp., 114 A.D.3d 1057, 1058 ;
Matter of Koenig v State Ins. Fund, 4 A.D.3d 671,
672 ). The death certificate and autopsy report both
noted that decedent died at home from coronary artery
disease. Although decedent was observed occasionally rubbing
his chest, taking antacids and acting lethargic in the days
prior to his death, those observations occurred both at work
and at home. Moreover, decedent was able to perform his
normal activities, both during and outside of work, up to the
time of his death, and there is no indication in the record
that he sought medical attention at any time. In light of the
lack of evidence that any injury ultimately resulting in
death occurred at work, we cannot say that the Board erred in
concluding that decedent was not in the course of his
employment when he died and that the statutory presumption
was therefore inapplicable (see Matter of Bailey v
Binghamton Precast & Supply Corp., 103 A.D.3d 992,
993-994 ; compare Matter of Koenig v State Ins.
Fund, 4 A.D.3d at 672).
the issue of causal relationship, "claimant bore the
burden of establishing - by competent medical evidence - that
a causal connection existed between decedent's death and
his employment" (Matter of Bailey v Binghamton
Precast & Supply Corp., 103 A.D.3d at 994; see
Matter of Droogan v Raymark Indus., Inc., 59 A.D.3d 803,
804 ). To that end, claimant presented the opinion of
Clifford Ameduri, who is board certified in physical medicine
and rehabilitation. Ameduri reviewed the death certificate,
autopsy report and incident reports regarding decedent's
work activities during the days leading up to his death. In
his written report, Ameduri opined that decedent died from an
acute myocardial infarction caused by work-related stress.
During his testimony, Ameduri acknowledged that the autopsy
report found that decedent had up to a 95% blockage due to
atherosclerosis of the left anterior coronary artery and up
to a 90% blockage due to atherosclerosis of the right and
left circumflex coronary arteries and that atherosclerosis is
chronic damage to the arteries that takes place gradually
over time. Ameduri also noted that the autopsy report, which
attributed the cause of death solely to coronary artery
disease, reported evidence of only an old myocardial
infarction. Ameduri testified that he believed that the cause
of death was actually "an acute coronary event, which
may have started the road onto a myocardial infarction,
" and that it was not observable during the autopsy
because decedent died too quickly for it to be
"pathologically express[ed]" before death.
the Board can certainly rely upon a medical opinion as to
causation even if it is not absolute or certain, it is also
free to disregard the medical evidence that it finds
unconvincing" (Matter of Donato v Taconic Corr.
Facility, 143 A.D.3d 1028, 1030  [citations
omitted]; see Matter of Norton v North Syracuse Cent.
School Dist., 59 A.D.3d 890, 891 ). In our view,
the Board was justified in rejecting, as unsupported and
speculative, Ameduri's opinion that the cause of death
was an acute coronary event and, therefore, its finding that
claimant had not established a causal connection between
decedent's employment and his death was supported by
substantial evidence (see Matter of Donato v Taconic
Corr. Facility, 143 A.D.3d at 1030; Matter of Bailey
v Binghamton Precast & Supply Corp., 103 A.D.3d at
J.P., Clark, Mulvey and Aarons, JJ., concur.
that the decision is ...