LUISA DINIS FERRER VS. BOARD OF TRUSTEES (PUBLIC EMPLOYEES’ RETIREMENT SYSTEM)

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NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION This opinion shall not "constitute precedent or be binding upon any court ." Although it is posted on the internet, this opinion is binding only on the parties in the case and its use in other cases is limited. R. 1:36-3. SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION DOCKET NO. A-4118-18T2 LUISA DINIS FERRER, Petitioner-Appellant, v. BOARD OF TRUSTEES, PUBLIC EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM, Respondent-Respondent. __________________________ Submitted December 1, 2020 – Decided January 13, 2021 Before Judges Gilson and Moynihan. On appeal from the Board of Trustees, Public Employees' Retirement System, PERS No. 2-1302907. Alterman & Associates, LLC, attorneys for appellant (Arthur J. Murray, of counsel and on the brief). Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Melissa H. Raksa, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Alison Keating, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief). PER CURIAM Appellant Luisa Dinis Ferrer appeals from the final agency decision of the Board of Trustees, Public Employees' Retirement System denying her accidental disability retirement benefits. That pension plan grants accidental disability retirement benefits if "the member is permanently and totally disabled as a direct result of a traumatic event occurring during and as a result of the performance of his [or her] regular or assigned duties." N.J.S.A. 43:16A-7(1). Accordingly, a claimant seeking accidental disability retirement benefits must prove five factors: 1. that he [or she] is permanently and totally disabled; 2. as a direct result of a traumatic event that is a. identifiable as to time and place, b. undesigned and unexpected, and c. caused by a circumstance external to the member (not the result of pre-existing disease that is aggravated or accelerated by the work); 3. that the traumatic event occurred during and as a result of the member's regular or assigned duties; 4. that the disability was not the result of the member's willful negligence; and 5. that the member is mentally or physically incapacitated from performing his [or her] usual or any other duty. A-4118-18T2 2 [Richardson v. Bd. of Trs., 192 N.J. 189, 212-13 (2007).] The Board adopted the initial decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), concluding Ferrer did not prove "she is totally and permanently disabled and . . . physically unable to perform the duties of her position as a teacher's aide." "[C]ognizant that we are reviewing [the Board's] findings and not those of the [ALJ]," Quigley v. Bd. of Trs. of Pub. Emps.' Ret. Sys., 231 N.J. Super. 211, 220 (App. Div. 1989), under our limited review of an administrative agency's decision, In re Carter, 191 N.J. 474, 482 (2007), we affirm. We will sustain a board's decision "unless there is a clear showing that it is arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable, or that it lacks fair support in the record." In re Herrmann, 192 N.J. 19, 27-28 (2007); see also Russo v. Bd. of Trs., Police & Firemen's Ret. Sys., 206 N.J. 14, 27 (2011). Under this standard, our review is guided by three major inquiries: (1) …

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