Kansas Court of Appeals: Sex crime investigator who suffered PTSD entitled to disability benefits
Topeka ? A Kansas Court of Appeals panel said Friday that a former police detective who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after spending years investigating sex crimes against children is entitled to disability benefits.
The case involved Paul Hudson, who spent four years as a detective in the child sex abuse unit of the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department. From 2007 through 2011, Hudson investigated hundreds of abuse cases, some of which gave him recurring nightmares involving his own small children.
After his supervisors noticed a marked change in his behavior, the department launched an internal investigation, and Hudson was forced to retire. He later sought psychiatric treatment, and three doctors all diagnosed him with PTSD.
In 2012, Hudson applied for disability through the Kansas Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, a division of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.
KPERS, however, denied the claim based on a review by its own consulting physician who looked only at written reports but who never examined or interviewed Hudson personally.
An administrative law judge upheld KPERS’ decision, saying Hudson’s doctors were not aware of the legal definition of disability, and even if Hudson had PTSD, that did not necessarily make him permanently unable to perform the duties of a police officer.
Hudson then appealed to Shawnee County District Court, which reversed KPERS’ decision and said Hudson was entitled to benefits. KPERS then asked the Kansas Court of Appeals for a review.
But a three-judge appeals court panel said Friday that testimony from doctors who have actually examined and treated a patient should be given greater weight than that of a doctor whose opinion was based only on a “paper review” of the patient’s medical records.
The panel also said that KPERS had ignored a sworn affidavit from Hudson’s supervisor in the police department who said Hudson was totally and permanently unable to perform his duties.
The unanimous opinion was written by Judge Kim Schroeder and was joined by appellate Judge Henry Green and Judge David Stutzman, a Riley County District Court judge who was assigned to the appellate panel.