Agency’s failure to review record was abuse of discretion, says NM Court of Appeals

Patricia Vigil, a state government employee, claimed she was disabled as a result of her work. A hearing officer of the Public Employees Retirement Board conducted a hearing, concluded she was disabled, and found that no pre-existing condition had significantly contributed to her disability.

This last finding was important, because under the Public Employees Retirement Act, disability benefits would have been denied if a pre-existing condition substantially contributed to Ms. Vigil’s disability.

The Board, however, reversed the decision, but without reviewing the transcript of the hearing.

Not surprisingly, the Court of Appeals held that the Board’s decision, made without reviewing all of the evidence, was arbitrary and capricious. The Court also looked at the record, found that it did not support the Board’s decision, and remanded to the Board with instructions to implement the hearing officer’s decision. In other words, the Court didn’t give the Board a second chance to get it right.

The decision is Vigil v. Public Employees Retirement Board (May 4, 2015), written by Judge Cynthia Fry.

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