New York, New York April 1, 2004 - In response to a lawsuit filed by two Rockland County Correction Officers, State Supreme Court Justice William E. Sherwood has ruled that the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department must continue to provide 207-c benefits to correction officer Zane Arok, who was injured while participating in the mandatory Defensive Tactics and Training Course, a self-defense program designed to prepare correction officers for dealing with problematic inmates. The Sheriff’s Department settled the lawsuit with the other correction officer, Maureen Cawley, who was injured while trying to control a disruptive inmate.

According to the complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court in August of 2003, Joey Jackson, of Koehler & Isaacs LLP, argued that the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department ‘arbitrarily and capriciously’ denied veteran correction officers Zane Arok and Maureen Cawley Section 207-c benefits, after they incurred work-related injuries. The purpose behind Section 207-c is to compensate specified municipal employees for injuries incurred in the performance of special work related to heightened risks and duties.

“This decision is a victory for all Rockland County correction officers,” said William Hickey, president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association of Rockland County. “They refused to give these two veteran officers the benefits which they were clearly entitled to and they have needlessly put us at impasse in collective bargaining negotiations for a new contract.”

Commenting on the legal implications stemming from Judge Sherwood’s decision, Mr. Jackson said, “Clearly the incident involving Ms. Cawley was a textbook example of why Section 207-c benefits were created in the first place; to protect municipal employees with dangerous job responsibilities.”

Mr. Jackson continued, “Even more significant though, is that Judge Sherwood clarified that when a municipal employee is participating in an employment required self-defense course, that employee remains under the auspices of the employer and in this case, it was the Sheriff’s Department.”

Rockland County correction officers have been working without a contract since December of 2000.