On appeal from Final Administrative Determination of the Board of Trustees, Public Employees' Retirement System.
Before Judges Havey, A. A. Rodriguez and Payne.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Payne, J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Petitioner Peter Angiola appeals from a determination by the Board of Trustees, Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) to deny him an accidental disability retirement allowance pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:15A-43 on the ground that the total and permanent injuries sustained by him during the course of his work were not the result of a "traumatic event" as required by statute. We reverse. See Esposito v. Police and Fireman's Retirement System, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2003).
Following injury in circumstances that we will soon describe, Angiola filed an application with PERS for accidental disability retirement benefits. Although ordinary disability retirement benefits were awarded, PERS denied Angiola's request for benefits available in cases of accidental disability. On appeal from that determination, PERS referred Angiola's application to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing as a contested matter. There, cross-motions for summary decision upon stipulated facts, presented by way of a certification by Angiola, were filed with an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ granted PERS' motion in a written decision that recommended that Angiola's application be denied because he had failed to demonstrate injury caused by a traumatic event, and PERS adopted that decision and recommendation.
We reproduce in its entirety the certification of Angiola that sets forth the facts that formed the basis for the underlying motions and the present appeal.
I, PETER ANGIOLA of full age, hereby certify as follows:
1. I am the Petitioner in the above matter.
2. On March 31, 1995 I was employed as a toll taker for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
3. On that date I was working in the tollbooth at Exit 9 on the New Jersey Turnpike.
4. The driver of an automobile approaching the tollbooth either lost control of his automobile, had a heart attack and died or had a heart attack, lost control of his automobile and died.
5. The automobile went airborne, struck another automobile and then was coming directly towards my tollbooth. Instead of striking my tollbooth, the automobile struck the top left corner of a tractor-trailer, which was exiting the tollbooth and then landed a few inches in front of the tollbooth.
6. The point of impact between the automobile and the tractor-trailer was approximately one ...