Obese Retired NYPD Cop Loses Benefit Boost Bid

January 17, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A New York state judge has rebuffed efforts by a 500-pound, retired New York City police officer to boost his disability benefits, ruling that a fall over a wooden pallet was caused by his morbid obesity.

New York Supreme Court Justice Judith Gische backed the city pension board that had previously ruled Paul Soto was not entitled to accidental disability pay of three-quarters of his salary instead of the regular disability pay of half his salary he already received, according to a New York Daily News article.

Soto contended that his March 2005 stumble while on duty qualified him for the higher benefit. Soto was already on limited duty and had been found disabled in 2004 for suffering from sleep apnea, hypertension, and obesity, the news report said.

Gische pointed out that the injury, which occurred as Soto was on his way to see a knee surgeon, took place when Soto was already on limited desk duty. Because of that, Gische asserted, the stumble did not make Soto any less able to perform his police department duties.

“It is a line-of-duty case because his injury occurred in the performance of duty,” Soto’s lawyer Philip Seelig told the Daily News. “The fact that it occurred in an office building does not detract from the fact that he is entitled to accidental disability benefits.”

Soto joined the police department in 1993 when he weighed 250 pounds, the news report said.