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Murphy v. Division of Pensions

Decided: November 30, 1971.

MARY MURPHY, WIDOW OF JAMES C. MURPHY, DECEASED, APPELLANT,
v.
DIVISION OF PENSIONS, CONSOLIDATED POLICE & FIREMEN'S PENSION FUND COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, RESPONDENT



Conford, Matthews and Fritz. The opinion of the court was delivered by Conford, P.J.A.D.

Conford

[117 NJSuper Page 209] Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:16-4, petitioner applied to the Consolidated Police and Firemen's Pension Fund Commission for benefits because of the asserted service-connected death of her husband, a member of the Fund. Following denial of her application petitioner filed a timely appeal for an administrative hearing. The hearing officer recommended that her application for accidental

death benefits be approved. The Commission, however, affirmed its original decision denying the application.

Decedent was employed by the Newark Police Department from November 25, 1941 until his death on April 15, 1968, his last day of active duty being April 14, 1968. His age at death was 59. Petitioner was her own principal witness. What follows is based on her testimony and certain stipulated matters. On the date of his death and for several years prior thereto decedent was assigned to the Violations Bureau of the Warrant Squad. His regular duties included indexing traffic tickets, compiling statistics and making court appearances in reference to them, etc. Decedent's regular hours of work were from 8 A.M. to 4 P.M. In the last few months prior to his death he had "pains and tightness in his chest," and his breathing was deep. He complained of the hard work and that he was tired. Without objection, petitioner was permitted to testify decedent had to pack and cart "drawers" filled with traffic tickets. He had in the early months of 1968 been packing such records for the year 1967. When he did that he came home and complained of being "very tired."

After being out for a time with an ankle injury decedent returned to work April 9, 1968. When he got to work he was told there was an emergency connected with the recent death of Martin Luther King, and he was required to work two hours extra. When he returned home he was very tired. Beginning April 10 he was required to work 12 hours a day, from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. and did so until the last day he worked, April 14, 1968, which was Easter Sunday. During that period he became more and more tired and would look worse, have trouble breathing, and complain of chest pains. He also spoke of "tension" because of the uncertain "situation" in the city.

When decedent returned home April 14 he had no dinner, went straight to bed, arose for an hour after about three hours of rest, and then, after a snack, returned to bed. On arriving home he had been breathing very heavily, had

chest and shoulder pains, and was "white as a sheet." He was restless and tossing in bed. When he arose about 5:30 in the morning his pains were "very severe" and his shortness of breath had become worse. A little later petitioner and her son called the emergency squad, which administered oxygen and brought decedent to Martland Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The medical examiner's death certificate, offered in evidence, states as cause of death, "occlusive coronary arteriosclerosis."

On cross-examination petitioner was asked to describe the "lifting" decedent had to do. She said the drawers were heavy,

Asked also on cross-examination about decedent's condition from April 9 to the 14th she testified:

Q Did you notice a marked deterioration that occurred rapidly that you could see?

A I could see it.

Q And when did you see this change? When would you say he was in good health and when did he appear to you ...


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