August 17, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Police Officer Injured at Work Only Entitled to One Year of Full Pay Disability Leave Under City Charter

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Miller v. City & County of Denver on Thursday, May 23, 2013.

Disability Compensation—Police Officers—Line-of-Duty Injury Leave.

In this dispute over disability compensation, plaintiffs Daryl Miller and the Denver Police Protective Association (DPPA) appealed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of defendant, the City and County of Denver (City). The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.

On July 15, 2005, Miller, a lieutenant in the Denver Police Department, was injured in an automobile accident in the course and scope of his employment. As a result of his injuries, surgeries, and medical treatment associated with the accident, he did not work for five months. Thereafter, for four years, he worked intermittently either at his position or in modified work functions.

Miller was entitled to disability benefits under the City Charter and the City’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the DPPA. On March 8, 2010, the City determined that he had reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) with respect to his injuries, and discontinued giving Miller line-of-duty injury leave at full salary after one year.

Miller and the DPPA contended that the district court erred in granting the City’s motion for summary judgment, because he was entitled to line-of-duty injury leave at full salary beyond one year. Here, both City Charter § 9.6.14 and Article 22.2 of the CBA relate to the same subject: disability benefits for a police officer who becomes “incapacitated from service” or “unable to perform [his or her] duties” because of “injuries received” in the “performance” or “discharge” of his or her “duties.” Charter provision § 9.6.14 awards the injured officer “full pay for such time as [he or she] is temporarily incapacitated,” and CBA Article 22.2 awards “any necessary leave of absence not to exceed one year at his [or her] full salary.”

Unlike § 9.6.14, Article 22.2 makes no distinction between benefits for temporary and permanent disabilities. Therefore, an injured officer is entitled to a maximum of one year of disability leave at full salary, without regard to the temporary or permanent nature of his or her disability. Because the record discloses that Miller received 178.25 hours above his allocated full-salary disability leave, the district court properly determined, as a matter of law, that the City was entitled to deduct his excess disability leave from his other accrued leave time.

Summary and full case available here.

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