telephonically May 4, 2018
appeal from the Board of Trustees of the Police and
Firemen's Retirement System, Department of Treasury, PFRS
E, Bagley argued the cause for appellant (Ricci, Fava &
Bagley, LLC, attorneys; Ronald J. Ricci, of counsel; Brooke
E. Bagley, on the brief).
E. Kelly, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for
respondent (Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General, attorney;
Melissa Dutton Schaffer, Assistant Attorney General, of
counsel; Christina Cella, Deputy Attorney General, on the
Judges Sabatino, Ostrer and Rose.
Paul Mattia appeals from a final determination of the Board
of Trustees ("Board") of the Police and
Firemen's Retirement System ("PFRS"), finding
he was not eligible for accidental disability retirement
benefits, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:16A-7. Mattia suffered a
disabling injury when he slipped and fell on ice in the
parking lot of the jail where he was employed, before he was
able to check in and receive his assignment. Because Mattia
had not yet begun performing his regular assigned duties, the
Board denied his claim for accidental disability retirement
benefits, determining he was still commuting when he was
injured. In doing so, the Board rejected the decision of an
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") granting
Mattia's petition. We affirm, finding Mattia was still
commuting when he was injured in the parking lot.
facts are essentially undisputed, and are summarized in the
initial decision by the ALJ as follows:
At 7:50 a.m. on the morning of February 19, 2014, Paul Mattia
was a Senior Correction Officer, whose regular assignment was
as a Gate Officer, employed by the New Jersey Department of
Corrections at Northern (Rahway) State Prison. Mattia drove to
work, parked his car in the employee parking lot, exited the
car, and walked in the parking lot directly towards the
entrance portal of the prison building where his post was
located. He was reporting for his shift, which was to start
at 8:00 a.m. and continue to 4:00 p.m. There was ice in the
parking lot. While walking, Mattia stepped into an icy
pothole and fell down, sustaining various injuries. These
injuries are the subject of the Board's July 13, 201
determination [that Mattia is totally and permanently
disabled]. Two photographs . . . show that the location of
the accident was adjacent to parked cars and the prison
building at which Mattia worked. The photographs depict the
distance of the accident location from the parked cars, from
the prison building, and from the portal towards which Mattia
was walking when the accident occurred.
sole issue presented to the ALJ was "whether
[Mattia's] disability resulted from an injury which he
sustained 'during and as a result of the performance of
his regular or assigned duties.'" See
N.J.S.A. 43:15A-43; Richardson v. Bd. of Trs., 192
N.J. 189, 212-13 (2007). Both parties moved for summary
disposition and presented documentary evidence at the
hearing, but no witnesses testified.
other documents, the Board submitted for the ALJ's
consideration a "Supervisor's Accident Investigation
Report, " listing Mattia's job duties as:
"Watching [r]esidents; pat frisking [r]esidents;
[w]alking [a]round work [a]rea; [r]esponding to
incidents." The Board also submitted a document
entitled, "Physical Demands Analysis, " dated
January 8, 2015, indicating Mattia was "exposed to . . .
environmental conditions (temp[erature], hazards, etc.) . . .
outside when walking between compounds."
submitted his answers to interrogatories with attachments for
the ALJ's review. He defined his job duties as including
"security of the gate, entry into the facility, inmate
transfers to and from facility, inmate supervision as well as
tasks/orders directed by supervising officers." He also
referenced and included a three-page document entitled
"Job Specification, " defining the position of a
Senior Correction Officer, and setting forth "examples
of work for this title . . . for illustrative purposes
only." Two of the eighteen examples listed for the Job
Specification are set forth as follows:
Conducts periodic inspections of the locks, windows, bars and
grills, doors and gates, and other places of possible egress
. . . .
Notes suspicious persons and conditions and takes appropriate
measures in reporting significant actions, and occurrences in
the buildings and on the grounds; reports conditions
constituting dangers and hazards; and takes the ...