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Laura Proano v. New Jersey Victims of Crime Compensation Review Board

August 30, 2012

LAURA PROANO, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY VICTIMS OF CRIME COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from then New Jersey Victims of Crime Compensation Review Board.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 25, 2012

Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Ostrer.

Appellant, Laura Proano, appeals from the final order and decision of the New Jersey Victims of Crime Compensation Board (Board) denying her claim for compensation for injuries she allegedly sustained as a result of a workplace assault. We affirm.

In September 2008, appellant was employed, on a part-time basis, by United Parcel Services (UPS) as a loader/unloader at its distribution center in Secaucus. According to appellant, on September 3, 2008, her supervisor, Thomas Gaffney, threw a step ladder at her, striking her foot and causing permanent damage. Appellant contends she has since been unable to work. Appellant did not immediately seek medical care but, two days later, was treated for an injury to her foot. She was assigned to light duty and continued to work until November 2008. She apparently filed a workers' compensation claim petition on the day of the incident or shortly thereafter in which she reported that she was "injured loading/unloading" and that she reported the injury to Gaffney. She subsequently collected workers' compensation benefits for the injuries.

On April 25, 2009, appellant spoke to police, reporting that she wanted to document an incident occurring on September 3, 2008, during which her supervisor threw a ladder at her, injuring her left foot. She did not file a formal complaint at that time. In January 2010, appellant once again reported the incident to police and, on February 5, filed a complaint against Gaffney. On that same date, the municipal court judge determined probable cause for the issuance of a summons had not been established and dismissed the complaint.

On May 21, 2010, appellant filed a claim with the Board, seeking compensation for medical and psychiatric counseling expenses as well as lost wages. The Board denied the claim and issued a Determination of Ineligibility letter on September 21, 2010, stating:

The crime occurred on September 3, 2008[,] and you did not file a police report until January 15, 2009, which is over the three [-]month filing limit. Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 13:75-1.5(b), the incident must have been reported to the police within three months of its occurrence or the date from which the claimant had knowledge or reason to believe that a crime had occurred.

Appellant appealed this determination and the Board granted appellant a hearing, during which she explained the reasons for the delay in reporting the September 3, 2008 incident.

Appellant attributed the delay to her physical and mental state during the first three months after the incident and testified that she "has the evidence, the medical records of all the treatment she was undergoing and her mental state of anxiety and depression." She also testified that she was unaware of the Board or that she could apply for compensation until January 2010 when her treating podiatrist, Dr. Patrick Cain, recommended that she file a criminal complaint with the police.

In a written decision, the Board found that appellant failed to demonstrate good cause for the delay in reporting the alleged criminal offense and that what she reported to police was a simple assault, which is not a compensable offense pursuant to N.J.S.A. 53:4B-11. The present appeal followed.

On appeal, appellant raises the following points for ...


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