The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board ruled recently that a fatal heart attack was work-related because the victim had been subjected to nearly four years of harassment by his employer and his employer’s attorneys in connection with an earlier workers’ compensation claim.

At one hearing on the dispute, the man told his attorney that “the Transit Authority is going to kill me.” He died of a heart attack later that day.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) worker had been seriously injured by a falling piece of equipment in 1991, leaving him partially disabled. A dispute arose over the amount of compensation due him, and the MTA illegally refused to release the victim's compensation checks until he repaid an alleged overpayment. For 18 months MTA demanded the repayment, while it ignored multiple Workers’ Compensation Board demands to produce evidence that any overpayment had occurred.

In its decision on his widow’s claim for death benefits, a panel of three members of the Workers’ Compensation Board found that “the MTA’s actions show a prolonged pattern of intimidation, deceit, and unlawful coercion, the wrongful withholding of benefits to which the decedent was entitled, and generally disgraceful conduct towards the decedent.”

The panel found that “the decedent’s resulting stress resulted in his accidental death causally related to his employment.”

The victim's widow will be eligible to receive $400 per week (the maximum New York State benefit) for life, or until she remarries.