Timperio v. Bronx-Lebanon Hosp., 2022-00711

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New York)
Writing for the CourtReynolds Fitzgerald, J.
PartiesIn the Matter of the Claim of Justin Timperio, Appellant, v. Bronx-Lebanon Hospital et al., Respondents. Workers' Compensation Board, Respondent.
Docket Number2022-00711
Decision Date03 February 2022

In the Matter of the Claim of Justin Timperio, Appellant,
v.

Bronx-Lebanon Hospital et al., Respondents.

Workers' Compensation Board, Respondent.

No. 2022-00711

Supreme Court of New York, Third Department

February 3, 2022


Calendar Date: January 12, 2022

Law Offices of Arnold N. Kriss, New York City (Arnold N. Kriss of counsel), for appellant.

Weiss, Wexler & Wornow, PC, New York City (J. Evan Perigoe of counsel), for Bronx-Lebanon Hospital and another, respondents.

Letitia James, Attorney General, New York City (Nina M. Sas of counsel), for Workers' Compensation Board, respondent.

Before: Lynch, J.P., Clark, Aarons and Reynolds Fitzgerald, JJ.

Reynolds Fitzgerald, J.

Appeal from a decision of the Workers' Compensation Board, filed January 27, 2021, which ruled, among other things, that Justin Timperio sustained an injury arising out of and in the course of his employment.

On June 30, 2017, Henry Bello, a physician who had worked for the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital (hereinafter the hospital) from August 2014 until his resignation in February 2015 following an allegation that he had sexually harassed a hospital employee, entered the hospital wearing a white doctor's coat and a hospital identification badge and carrying, among other things, a loaded AR-15 rifle. In addition to setting fire to the hospital's sixteenth floor nursing station using a juice container filled with gasoline, Bello shot Justin Timperio, who was a first-year medical resident at that time, [1] shot and killed another doctor and shot and wounded four other members of the medical staff in addition to a patient. Timperio was shot in the abdomen, and the bullet exited his right thigh, requiring a hospital admission, surgical procedures and treatment. After the mass shooting, Bello shot and killed himself. In July 2017, the hospital and its workers' compensation carrier, the State Insurance Fund, filed a First Report of Injury form indicating that a former employee had shot Timperio while Timperio was performing his normal work duties and that his injuries required emergency surgery. The Workers' Compensation Board filed and mailed a Notice of Case Assembly, as well as a follow-up notice, to Timperio's last known address notifying him that a workers' compensation claim had been opened on his behalf, but the correspondence was returned without delivery.

In March 2018, Timperio filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (hereinafter the federal action) against the hospital, alleging causes of action for negligence, negligent infliction of emotion distress and negligent hiring, retention, training and supervision. Motion practice ensued, and, in an April 2019 memorandum opinion, the District Court (Gardephe, J.) denied the hospital's motion for summary judgment, finding, as relevant here, that Timperio's injuries did not arise out of and in the course of his employment because there was no evidence that the shooting originated in work-related differences (Timperio v Bronx-Lebanon Hosp. Ctr., 384 F.Supp.3d 425, 432-433 [SD NY 2019]). [2] In May 2019, the hospital moved in District Court for an order certifying an interlocutory appeal or, in the alternative, for a stay pending the resolution of the proceedings before the Board; the District Court granted the request for a stay but denied the balance of the motion (Timperio v Bronx-Lebanon Hosp. Ctr., 2020 WL 8996683, *1, 3, 2020 U.S. Dist LEXIS 41589, *1, 7-8 [SD NY, Mar. 9, 2020, No. 18-CV-1804 (PGG)]).

Following April, May and September 2020 hearings before a Workers' Compensation Law Judge (hereinafter WCLJ) to determine whether the Board had the authority and jurisdiction - in light of the federal action - to adjudicate the compensability of the claim, the WCLJ found that the Board has primary jurisdiction over the claim, established the claim for a gunshot wound to the abdomen and set Timperio's average weekly wage for purposes of awarding temporary indemnity benefits. Upon administrative review, the Workers' Compensation Board affirmed, finding initially that it is not precluded or estopped by the federal action to address the compensability of the claim and, secondly, that Timperio failed to rebut the presumption that the attack occurred during the course of his employment, as the assault occurred while he was working in a non-public area within the hospital, was perpetrated by a former employee, and was not motivated by personal animosity. Timperio appeals.

For the reasons that follow, we agree with the Board that it should have determined the issue at hand in the first instance and that it is not estopped from doing so but find, however, that Timperio did not sustain an injury arising out of and in the course of his employment. We therefore reverse. "It is axiomatic that an employee injured during his or her employment is limited in his or her remedy to workers' compensation [benefits] unless the injury was due to an intentional tort perpetrated by the employer or at the employer's direction" (Vasquez v McGeever, 1 A.D.3d 767, 768 [2003] [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]; see Workers' Compensation Law §§ 11, 29 [6]; Weiner v City of New York, 19 N.Y.3d 852, 854 [2012]; Bello v City of New York, 178 A.D.3d 648,...

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