Plaintiff: Peter F. Skwirz, Esq. Anthony DeSisto, Esq.
Benjamin Ferreira, Esq.
Defendant: Gary T. Gentile, Esq.
Town of Warren (Town or Plaintiff)-seeks declaratory relief
from providing Injured on Duty (IOD) benefits to the
Defendant-Detective Michael J. Clancy (Detective Clancy or
Defendant). Plaintiff requests declaratory judgments that (1)
the Defendant is improperly receiving IOD benefits instead of
retirement benefits; (2) the Town is not obligated to
continue paying these benefits to Defendant; and (3) in the
alternative, if this Court finds that Defendant is entitled
to IOD benefits, Defendant is eligible to be moved to a
retirement plan. In essence, the Plaintiff wants the Court
to declare that the Town can terminate Detective Clancy's
IOD benefits. Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L. 1956 §
9-30-1, the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act.
the Court adopts and incorporates in its entirety the
Stipulated Facts submitted by the parties.
salient facts are as follows:
Detective Clancy has been employed as a permanent, full-time
police officer for the Warren Police Department since
December 16, 1986. Stipulated Facts at ¶¶ 2-3. The
Plaintiff is a participating municipality and the Defendant
is an active member in the police officer and
firefighter's retirement plan of the Municipal Employees
Retirement System (MERS) administered by the Employees'
Retirement System of Rhode Island (ERSRI). Id. at
January 29, 1998, while at work, the Defendant experienced
pain in his back and legs and was sent home. Id. at
¶ 5. Shortly after that date, Defendant was admitted to
Roger Williams Hospital and diagnosed with a spinal epidural
abscess stemming from a staphylococcal infection, which
rendered the Defendant unable to perform his duties as a
police officer. Id. at ¶¶ 6-7. Following
this diagnosis, Defendant has been permanently disabled and
unable to perform his duties as a police officer.
Id. at ¶ 11. Nonetheless, the Plaintiff
continues to pay the Defendant IOD benefits pursuant to the
injured on duty statute under G.L. 1956 § 45-19-1.
Id. at ¶ 10.
October 23, 1998, Defendant applied for an accidental
disability pension with the ERSRI pursuant to §
45-21.2-9. Id. at ¶ 12. On December 1,
2000, while the Defendant's application was pending with
the ERSRI, the Plaintiff informed the Defendant that it would
be terminating his IOD benefits. Id. at ¶ 13.
In response, Defendant filed an action to enjoin the
Town's purported obligation to continue paying his IOD
benefits under § 45-19-1 and sought a temporary
restraining order. Id. at ¶ 14. On December 21,
2000, following the hearing, the Court granted
Defendant's motion for a temporary restraining order
enjoining the Town from the cessation of salary and benefits
payable to the Defendant pursuant to the IOD statute.
Id. at ¶ 15. A hearing on preliminary or
permanent injunction was never held. Id. at
February 22, 2001, the Town filed a third party complaint and
petition for a writ of mandamus against the ERSRI and
requested that the Court direct ERSRI to grant the Defendant
an accidental disability retirement. Id. at ¶
17. On June 6, 2002, the Court denied the Plaintiffs petition
for a writ of mandamus. Id. at ¶ 20. On January
3, 2012, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs petition for a writ
of mandamus. Id. at ¶ 23.
April 11, 2001, ERSRI denied Defendant's application for
an accidental disability pension and found that
Defendant's disability was not work-related under G.L.
1956 § 36-10-14(a). Id. at ¶ 18. The
standards for work-related injuries under the IOD statute and
the accidental disability pension statute are
different. On May 25, 2001, the Defendant appealed
ERSRI's decision, and the Plaintiff joined the Defendant
as a co-appellant. Id. at ¶ 19. On June 5,
2003, the Superior Court affirmed ERSRI's decision to
deny Defendant's application based on the same
conclusion: Defendant's disability was not work-related
for accidental disability pension purposes under §
36-10-14(a). Id. at ¶ 22.
28, 2008, the Town entered into a Collective Bargaining
Agreement (CBA) with the International Brotherhood of Police
Officers Local #470 (the Union). Pl.'s Mem., Ex. A at 1.
The Town and IBPO added a provision to the CBA that requires
an officer to apply for disability pension with the State
Retirement Board if he or she (1) collects IOD benefits for
more than 365 days and (2) receives a medical opinion that he
or she is unlikely to return to work within 180 days of the
first 365 days. Id. at Art. X, § 10.01(L).
In addition, the Town and IBPO entered into a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU), which stated that new legislation would
be necessary to address situations when IOD status police
officers are denied a disability pension. Pl.'s Mem., Ex.
January 3, 2012, Defendant's action to enjoin the Town
from terminating his IOD benefits was dismissed. Stipulated
Facts at ¶ 23. Defendant ...