Target 12

South Kingstown officer denied again in nearly decade-old pension case

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island's longest-running accidental disability pension case got longer Tuesday, when the pension board voted unanimously to again deny the application filed by a South Kingstown police officer who claims he was permanently injured on duty in 2010.

The back-and-forth battle involving 49-year-old Damon Borrelli began in 2011, moving from years before the board, to an appeal in Superior Court, and then back to the board earlier this year after Judge Jeffrey Lanphear vacated the board's previous denials. 

Neither Borrelli nor his attorney Michael Lepizzera have returned a request for comment.

After Lanphear's decision in August, Lepizzera said Borrelli was "vindicated by this well thought out and reasoned legal decision."

Since last wearing a badge, Borrelli has become an attorney and works at Lepizzera's firm, with a workload that, according to court records, includes 24 open cases. 

The South Kingstown officer claims a 2010 accident and confrontation caused Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and left him unable to continue his career in law enforcement.

Since the incident nearly nine years ago, South Kingstown records indicate the town has spent more than $550,000 paying Borrelli's salary, tax-free, and his benefits.  

His position on the department has remained unfilled during that time. 

With its Tuesday vote, the pension board agreed with a subcommittee decision that stated "the 2010 incident was not a qualifying accident" for an accidental disability pension, which pay the recipient 66 percent of their salary, tax-free.  

The decision also cited medical opinions that concluded Borrelli did not suffer from PTSD as a result of the confrontation, which was said to be "insufficient to trigger such a reaction," according to the subcommittee.  

In August, the board was told to reconsider its previous decisions by Judge Lanphear, who noted the medical opinions over the years have been "varied and conflicting."

But in the end, the board did not change its decision, sending the legal ping pong ball back to Borrelli's side of the table.

Borrelli now has the option to appeal the board's vote with the subcommittee again, and if denied again, he could go back to Superior Court, potentially adding months to the ongoing case.  

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau


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