Parkinson v. Guadalupe Public Safety Retirement Local Board – 1/30/2007

February 1, 2007

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds that Disability Need Not be the Sole Cause for Resignation of an Applicant Seeking an Accidental-Disability Pension.

After suffering a neck injury on the job, the Guadalupe Fire Chief (“Chief”) requested an accidental-disability pension from the Guadalupe Public Safety Retirement Local Board (“Board”) pursuant to the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, A.R.S. § 38-841 et seq. The Board denied the request, reasoning that the Chief’s injury was not the “sole cause” of his resignation, and citing evidence suggesting that he had received a notice from the Town Manager stating an intent to terminate him for sexually offensive language and conduct. The Chief appealed to the Superior Court, which reversed, rejecting the Board’s factual conclusion that the Chief had actually received the notice as not supported by the record. The Board then appealed to Division One. The Court noted that it could affirm the superior court if that court’s decision was correct for any reason, including a reason that it did not consider. The Court did so, holding that the factual dispute regarding the Chief’s receipt of the notice of intent to terminate was irrelevant because no law specified that an applicant’s accidental disability must be the sole cause of his resignation. Because the Chief’s unchallenged evidence confirmed that he was eligible for the pension under the statute, he was entitled to receive the pension.

The decision was authored by Judge Erlich and joined by Judge Irvine and Superior Court Judge Barton, sitting by designation.