ALBANY, N.Y. -- A former NBC executive's suicide was triggered by job pressures that included frequent calls from former network chief Fred Silverman, a state court has ruled.

The State Supreme Court Appellate Division ruling upholds a $98,040 death benefit on behalf of Joel Friedman.

The state Workers' Compensation Board found that Friedman's 1980 suicide resulted from extraordinary stress created by his promotion to manager of NBC's videotape library.

NBC had argued that Friedman's death had nothing to do with his job but with an undiagnosed depression he had suffered for 20 years.

But the court on Thursday said a 1978 shake-up in NBC's top-level management, frequent calls and beeper pagings from Silverman, then the network president, and round-the-clock hours took their toll on Friedman.

"As documented in suicide notes to the decedent's wife and supervisor, these changes, particularly the responsibility for the tape library, finally drove {Friedman} to take his own life because he could not face what he perceived as inevitable failure," the court said.

Friedman left a note that said he couldn't "deal with success," said Howard Friedland, a state assistant attorney general.

Attorney Joel Gluck, who represented NBC, said no decision had been made on whether to appeal the decision.

Friedman's wife died in 1990, and it was unclear who would receive the compensation.