ORDER ON RULE 80C APPEAL
Michaela Murphy Justice, Superior Court
the Court is Petitioner's appeal of the denial of his
application for disability retirement benefits by MPERS.
2003, Petitioner first met with Dr. Rice for an eye injury
resulting from playing softball. (R. at 3). According to Dr.
Rice's February 19, 2014 report, Petitioner had suffered
"substantial permanent vision loss in the left eye to
glaucoma and showed signs of incipit glaucoma in the
right." (R. at 43.5). Dr. Rice prescribed treatment with
drop therapy, which Petitioner followed for several years.
(R. at 43.5). Petitioner developed a traumatic cataract in
the left eye. (R. at 43.5). Dr. Rice removed the cataract in
2008. (R. at 43.5). Thereafter, Petitioner's vision was
significantly improved to 20/20 in his left eye, although he
was diagnosed with irreversible and substantial visual field
loss due to glaucoma. (R. at 43.6). In December 2012,
Petitioner complained to Dr. Rice that he suffered severe
glare affecting both night and day driving. (R. at 43.6). Dr.
Rice successfully performed cataract surgery on
Petitioner's right eye. (R. at 43.6).
December 28, 2012 and January 16, 2013, Petitioner's
vision was measured at 20/20 by Dr. Rice. (R. at 43.6).
Petitioner left work February 5, 2013 and did not return. (R.
at 43.6). On February 11, 2013, Petitioner met with Dr. Rice
complaining of having trouble on the job. (R. at 43.6). His
vision was again measured at 20/20. (R. at 43.6). Dr. Rice
wrote a note recommending that Petitioner be taken off duty
because of a flare up of preexisting glaucoma for the next
2-3 weeks. (R. at 43.6). On February 20, 2013,
Petitioner's vision was measured at 20/20 in the right
eye and 20/25 in the left. (R. at 43.6). At that time Dr.
Rice wrote a second note concerning Petitioner's
employment stating that Petitioner should remain off duty
through April 3, 2013. (R. at 43.6).
April 2013, Petitioner complained of foggy vision and Dr.
Rice performed a YAG laser capsulotomy on May 13, 2013. (R.
at 43.6). Dr. Rice stated that this procedure usually
resolves problems of glare and foggy vision. (R. at 43.6). On
May 29, 2013, Dr. Rice's note indicated that Petitioner
had reported glare symptoms and did not feel safe performing
his job. (R. at 43.6). Dr. Rice stated that he was not
qualified to determine whether Petitioner was able to
continue working as a patrolman. (R. at 43.6).
27, Petitioner's vision was measured at 20/20 on the
right eye and 20/30 on the left eye. (R. at 43.6). Under
glare stress, his vision was measured at 20/30 on the right
and 20/50 on the left. (R. at 43.6). In a February 19, 2014
letter, Dr. Rice reported that Petitioner had complained of
glare and fog interfering with his vision making him feel
unsafe doing his job. (R. at 43.6). In a letter dated
February 20, 2014, Dr. Rice stated that the reported symptoms
of glare and fog likely resulted from the damage to his left
eye. (R. at 43.7). In that letter Dr. Rice concluded that
Petitioner "was incapable of pursuing his current line
of work as of February 5, 2013. (R. at 43.7).
returned to the Berwick Police Department in 2002 after
living outside of Maine. (R. at 43.7). Petitioner was
considered marginal employee. (R. at 43.7). He had been
disciplined on multiple occasions. (R. at 43.7). On January
28, 2013, shortly before he left work, the Town of Berwick
Employee Performance Evaluation stated that his reporting was
unsatisfactory, he failed to accept responsibility, and he
was overall not meeting the expectations of the employer. (R.
February 5, 2013, Chief Towne scheduled a meeting with
Petitioner to discuss a new incident under investigation. (R.
at 43.7). The meeting was to discuss the investigation of
Petitioner's possible use of excessive speed. (R. at
43.7). In the meeting, Petitioner told Chief Towne that he
did not intend to work past April 2013 at which point he
would have put in sufficient years to receive his full
pension. (R. at 22.20, 24, 62). After the meeting, Petitioner
left work and returned only to voluntarily clean out his desk
and hand in his firearm. (R. at 43.7). On February 7, 2013,
after Petitioner's departure, a notice was issued to
Petitioner concerning a meeting to begin investigation for a
situation involving a possibly impaired driver who Petitioner
allowed to drive herself home. (R. at 43.8). The
investigations were put on hold during Petitioner's
absence. (R. at 43.8). Because Petitioner did not return to
work, the investigations were never completed. (R. at 43.8).
applied for disability retirement benefits on February 28,
2013. His application was denied by the Executive Director
("ED") on June 24, 2013. (R. at 43.3). Petitioner
filed an appeal on July 23, 2013. (R. at 43.3). The hearing
took place on March 26, 2014. (R. at 43.3). MPERS deposed
Chief Timothy Towne on April 22, 2014. (R. at 43.3). MPERS
issued a decision on July 23, 2014 accompanied by a
memorandum from the Medical Board dated July 17, 2014
affirming the determination of the ED. Both parties submitted
memorandum on August 22, 2014. (R. at 43.3). The Hearing
Officer's Recommended Decision For ...