After Six Years, Airport Employee’s Widow Receives Workers’ Comp and Death Benefits

A New York State Appeals Court recently ruled that the widow of an airport employee who suffered a heart attack on the job is due workers’ compensation and death benefits. The decision concludes a six-year battle between the claimant and her late husband’s employer.

On December 14, 2010, Edward Kilcullen, who worked as a process operator at Albany International Airport’s glycol facility — which produces the liquid for deicing aircrafts — collapsed on the job after sustaining a myocardial infarction. He suffered brain damage as a result and never regained consciousness. He died seven days later.

Rita Kilcullen, Mr. Kilcullen’s wife, filed claims for workers’ compensation and death benefits, but was denied by both her late husband’s employer and the employer’s insurer. After a series of hearings, a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge ruled that Mr. Kilcullen’s work “contributed” to his heart attack and that his “death arose out of and in the course of his employment.” In March 2014, the Workers’ Compensation Board agreed with the judge; the employer appealed the decision.

On April 21, 2016, a three-judge panel of New York’s Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, in Albany affirmed the board’s decision. The court cited in its decision a finding from a doctor who reviewed Mr. Kilcullen’s medical records and concluded that the employee’s work environment and his work-related activities were “significant contributing factors” to his heart attack and resulting death.

According to case law, “a heart injury precipitated by work-related physical strain is compensable, even if a pre-existing pathology may have been a contributing factor and the physical exertion was no more severe than that regularly encountered by the claimant.”

The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

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