Opinion 88-3

This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.

FINES AND PENALTIES -- Distribution by State Comptroller (fines for violations of Workers' Compensation Law)

WORKERS' COMPENSATION LAW, §52(2): Fines imposed under the Workers' Compensation Law are paid into the Uninsured Employers' Fund.

You ask that we review the provisions of subdivision two of section 52 of the Workers' Compensation Law (WCL) regarding the disposition of fines. Subdivision two provides as follows:

"All fines imposed under this chapter, except as herein otherwise provided, shall be paid directly and immediately by the officer collecting the same to the chairman, and shall be paid by him into the uninsured employers' fund created under section twenty-six-a of this chapter, provided, however, that all such fines collected by justices of the peace of towns and police justices of villages shall be paid to the state comptroller in accordance with the provisions of section twenty-seven of the town law and section one hundred eighty-five [now section 4-410(1)(b)] of the village law respectively."

As it appears from the above quoted provision, fines collected by town and village justices must be paid to the State Comptroller (Justice Court Fund). Pursuant to State Finance Law, §99-a(2), the State Comptroller is then required to pay such moneys into the Uninsured Employers' Fund on a quarterly basis.

Fines not collected by town and village justices, however, are required to be paid by the collecting officer directly to the Chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board for payment into the Uninsured Employers' Fund. Accordingly, fines collected by a sheriff or penitentiary must be paid directly to the Chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board.

The WCL provides for a different disposition for civil penalties imposed under that statute. For example, sections 25(2)(a) and 120 provide that penalties shall be paid into the State Treasury and be applied to the expenses of administering the WCL. Please note that these sections are not exceptions to section 52(2) since that subdivision pertains only to "fines" and has no application to civil penalties.

In conclusion, therefore, all fines imposed under the WCL, and received from town and village justices, must be paid into the Uninsured Employers' Fund. As was noted above, however, a different disposition is required for civil penalties imposed under that statute.

January 29, 1988
Melvin I. Rosenblat, Director
Justice Court Fund