New York Deputy Sheriff’s Fatal Heart Attack at Home is Not Compensable

Acknowledging that N.Y. Work. Comp. Law § 21 provides a presumption of compensability where the decedent’s initial injury occurs while he or she at work, a New York appellate court held that the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board did not err when it concluded that a deputy sheriff’s fatal heart attack did not occur in the course of the employment where, although the decedent may have experienced some discomfort at work, the deputy died in his sleep at home [see Matter of Bordonaro v Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2443 (3rd Dept., Mar. 30, 2017)].

Although the decedent, decedent, a deputy sheriff, was observed occasionally rubbing his chest, taking antacids, and acting in a lethargic manner in the days prior to his death, those observations occurred both at work and at home, said the Court. Moreover, the decedent was able to perform his normal activities—both during and outside of work—up to the time of his death, and there was no indication in the record that he sought medical attention at any time. An autopsy report indicated the decedent had up to a 95% blockage of the left anterior coronary artery and up to a 90% blockage of the right and left circumflex coronary arteries due to atherosclerosis and that the decedent’s atherosclerosis took place gradually over time.

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