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Grillo v. State

New Jersey Appellate Division

August 31, 2021

Appellants were injured at work and received temporary disability benefits through workers’ compensation. They filed a complaint against the State for a judgment declaring that their contributions towards healthcare premium costs should be based not on salary but “on the rate of Temporary Disability Benefits being paid.” Appellants sought declaratory relief permitting temporary disability benefits to substitute for the State Health Benefits Program’s (“SHBP”) “base salary” provision. The trial court dismissed with prejudice. On appeal, Appellants argued that the New Jersey Appellate Division should declare temporary disability benefits “base salary” under the SHBP premium cost contribution statute. The Court affirmed the trial court’s order. The Court held that there was “no basis in the principles of statutory construction to substitute temporary disability benefits, a temporary payment to employees arising from work-related injury status, for collectively bargained salary, pensionable or not”.  Appellants also contended that the trial court’s denial of the motion to amend the complaint was an abuse of discretion. The Appellate Division disagreed, ruling that the unambiguous language of N.J.S.A. 52:14-17.28d rendered the potential cause of action in the proposed amendment futile.

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