On appeal from the Civil Service Commission, CSC Docket No. 2010-2960.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 14, 2011 -
Before Judges Lihotz and Waugh.
Appellant Samantha Verwilt appeals the final agency decision of the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (Commission) denying her application for sick leave injury (SLI) benefits arising from an accident that occurred while she was driving a rental car on official business in another state. We affirm.
We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.
Verwilt is an assistant deputy public defender, employed by the Office of the Public Defender (OPD). On February 5, 2010, while in North Carolina on official business, she was involved in a motor vehicle accident, in which her rental car left the roadway, crashed into a sign and a roadway median.
At the time of the accident, it was cold, raining, and the road was wet. Verwilt told the police officer who responded to the scene that she believed she was traveling approximately sixty miles per hour. According to the police report, the speed limit where the accident occurred was fifty-five miles per hour. Verwilt received a citation for "failing to maintain lane control within a single lane while driving on a street with clearly marked lanes for traffic," in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-146(d)(1). The local prosecutor eventually dismissed the citation.
As a result of the accident, Verwilt sustained injuries to her neck, right knee, right wrist, right shoulder, and left hip, some of which required surgery. She was "authorized out of work" on February 8 and 11, and February 16 through February 23. She applied for SLI benefits, but OPD denied her application. In its denial letter, OPD explained its reasons as follows:
[I]n accordance with N.J.A.C. 4A:6-1.6(c)6 [sic], an injury or illness is not compensable when the appointing authority has established that the employee has been grossly negligent. Documentation provided by you including your statement, a citation for "failing to maintain lane control within a single lane while driving on a street with clearly marked lanes for traffic" and the police report support and necessitate this denial.
Verwilt appealed to the Commission. On October 8, the Commission upheld OPD's decision, finding that Verwilt operated the vehicle in a grossly ...