Is An Employer Collaterally Estopped from Denying Benefits Under Section 207 If Employee Is Eligiable for Worker's Comp Benefits ?

In Matter of Balcerak v. County of Nassau (94 NY2d 253 [1999] the Court of Appeals held that an employer is not collaterally estopped from denying benefits under section 207-c because an employee has been found to be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. The Court did not, as respondents claim, hold that petitioners would only be eligible for section 207-c benefits where they were injured as a result of the dangerous duties encountered by a correction officer. The language used by the respondent from the decision of the Court of Appeals was proffered by that Court for the purpose of discussing the differences between the broader workers' compensation benefits and the more generous General Municipal Law benefits to explain why the employer should not be collaterally estopped from denying section 207-c benefits where the employee had been granted the workers' compensation benefits. The effect of the Court's decision was to overrule a standard established by the various Appellate Divisions that a finding of eligibility under the Workers' Compensation Law was collateral estoppel to such a review under General Municipal Law 207-c. It worked nothing more than to reverse holdings such as Matter of Maresco v. Rozzi (162 AD2d 534 [2d Dept 1990]) wherein the then Nassau County Attorney Robert Schmidt correctly argued against the concept of collateral estoppel in those circumstances.