Heard: November 6, 2017.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on May 14,
2015. The case was heard by Peter M. Lauriat, J., on motions
for judgment on the pleadings.
Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the
case from the Appeals Court.
A. Corrigan, Special Assistant Attorney General, for the
Michael Sacco for retirement board of Swampscott.
Present: Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, & Cypher, JJ.
plaintiff, the Public Employee Retirement Administration
Commission (PERAC), appeals from a Superior Court judge's
decision affirming a determination by the Contributory
Retirement Appeal Board (CRAB) that sick or vacation
payments, when used to supplement workers' compensation
payments, are not "regular compensation" as defined
in G. L. c. 32, § 1. PERAC argues that CRAB's
decision is incorrect as a matter of law. We disagree, and
for the following reasons we affirm the decision of the
Superior Court judge.
relevant facts are not in dispute. From September 30, 1985,
to July 7, 2012, Robert Vernava worked for the town of
Swampscott's department of public works. On June 13,
2010, Vernava sustained injuries while performing job-related
duties. He began receiving workers' compensation benefits
the same day. In addition to the workers' compensation
benefits, under G. L. c. 152, § 69, Vernava also
received two hours per week of sick or vacation pay
(supplemental pay) in order to maintain his union membership
and life insurance.
to G. L. c. 32, § 7, on February 1, 2012, the town of
Swampscott filed an application seeking to retire Vernava
involuntarily for accidental disability. On June 28, 2012,
the retirement board of Swampscott (board) approved the
application and voted to involuntarily retire Vernava due to
accidental disability. Vernava received his workers'
compensation benefits and supplemental pay until July 7,
G. L. c. 32, § 7 (2), the effective date of an
employee's accidental disability retirement is the latest
of the following: (1) "the date the injury was
sustained;" (2) "the date six months prior to the
filing of the written application for such retirement;"
or (3) "the date for which he last received regular
compensation for his employment in the public service."
Following the board's decision to retire Vernava
involuntarily, PERAC determined that Vernava's effective
retirement date was July 7, 2012, because this was the last
day Vernava received "regular compensation" in the
form of his supplemental pay. The board, while not agreeing
with PERAC's determination, was bound to follow
appealed from PERAC's determination to the division of
administrative law appeals (DALA). DALA reversed PERAC's
decision, finding that Vernava's supplemental pay did not
constitute "regular compensation" under G. L. c.
32, § 1. DALA determined that Vernava last received such
compensation on June 13, 2010, the date of his injury. Based
on that determination, DALA set Vernava's effective
accidental disability retirement date as August 1, 2011. This
was because, with DALA's determination that the
supplemental pay was not regular compensation, the latest
occurring event under G. L. c. 32, § 7 (2), became the
date six months prior to the filing of the accidental
disability application, here August 1, 2011, and not the date
Vernava last received regular compensation.
appealed from DALA's findings to CRAB, and CRAB upheld
DALA's decision. PERAC sought judicial review of
CRAB's decision pursuant to G. L. c. 30A, § 14. A
Superior Court judge affirmed CRAB's decision, and PERAC
appealed. We transferred the ...