A Baltimore City employee is not precluded from qualifying for line-of-duty disability if he or she has a preexisting medical or physical condition that contributes to his or her disability, according to a recent decision by Maryland's top court.
Sylvester Dorsey, a school police officer in Baltimore City, was injured in a violent altercation with a student's parent in August 2007. Dorsey's back was injured as a result. Although he returned to light work duty a few weeks later, he was unable, however, to return to full work duty. The City of Baltimore terminated his employment on January 17, 2009. Dorsey then filed an application for line-of-duty disability retirement with the Employment Retirement System of the City of Baltimore (ERS).
Baltimore City Code, Article 22, lays out the eligibility requirements for certain employees of the city of Baltimore to receive line-of-duty disability retirement benefits. That section requires a claimant seeking benefits to prove that he or she sustained at least a "50% anatomical loss of the use of any 1 or at least a 25% or more anatomical loss of each of 2 or more" enumerated body parts. The loss of use must be "the direct result of bodily injury through an accident independent of all other causes and independent of any preexisting physical or medical conditions, job-related or otherwise, occurring while in the actual performance of duty with the City at a definite time and place, without willful negligence on the part of the member."