Workers' Compensation News - March 17, 2004 Volume 2 Issue 12 CompAssist (tm)

 FORMER DIRECTOR OF NJ DIVISION OF WORKERS COMPENSATION INDICTED
Harry Parkin, formerly one of Mercer County's highest-ranking officials, was indicted yesterday on political corruption charges tied to a financial scheme involving a county recycling contract and other projects. 
Parkin, 59, of Washington Township faces 12 counts of mail fraud and an attempted extortion charge that could land him behind bars for several years, according to an indictment released yesterday by U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie. 
The Trenton Times
http://www.nj.com/news/times/index.ssf?/base/news-1/107908619162720.xml

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INTENTIONAL TORT
Self-Insured Employer and Third-Party Administrator Sued
Plaintiff worked for defendant DaimlerChrysler from 1979 until his retirement on disability in November, 2002. DaimlerChrysler is a self-insured employer under Ohio's workers' compensation law for purposes of administrating its employees' workers' compensation claims. Defendant ESIS is the third party administrator of DaimlerChrysler's workers' compensation program.
As a result of his employment with DaimlerChrysler, plaintiff developed bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome and a right shoulder injury. Plaintiff claims that the defendants deliberately mishandled his claims for workers' compensation, thereby delaying his receipt of benefits and underpaying him, in order to force him from his job. The defendants deny that any delay or underpayment was intentional, but they give no explanation for the delay and underpayment that did in fact occur.
Summary Judgment was denied.
Torrez v. DaimlerChrysler Corp.
2004 WL 423994 N.D.Ohio,2004.Feb. 25, 2004
http://www.westlaw.com

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ASBESTOS
9-11 ACTION AGAINST EPS
Lower Manhattan Residents Sue EPA Over 9/11 Air Quality
Residents and workers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn sued the Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday, saying the agency improperly let thousands of people return to their homes and businesses after the World Trade Center collapsed.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan accused the EPA of repeatedly making misleading and unduly reassuring statements about air quality after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. It sought class-action status.
WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/search $

Group Is Suing Federal Agency Over Post-9/11 Health Hazards
The health of tens of thousands of people who live and work in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn has been endangered by the way federal officials mishandled the environmental hazards caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday in United States District Court in Manhattan. 
Twelve Manhattan residents and workers sued the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to follow its own procedures to ensure the area was safe before allowing people to return.
They also accused the agency's former administrator, Christie Whitman, of displaying "a shockingly deliberate indifference to human health" when she issued reassuring statements about air quality downtown that proved to be misleading. 

Dying for a living
In Sarnia, Ont., former workers with chemicals and asbestos are enduring a slow-motion Bhopal. People are afflicted with rare cancers at a rate nearly 35 per cent higher than the provincial average. It may be the worst outbreak of industrial disease in recent Canadian history
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20040313/COVER13//?query=mesothelioma

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CALIFORNIA
Tension Rises on California Workers' Compensation Program
As lawmakers wrestled with major differences on a workers' compensation deal, supporters of a business-backed ballot initiative hit the streets Monday with their campaign to take the issue to voters this fall.
Signature gatherers started to fan out across the state with petitions Monday, seeking to qualify a ballot measure that contains many of the changes supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
At the same time, a powerful attorneys' group opposed to the ballot measure also announced that it will attempt to block the signature gathering effort with pickets at the locations where petitions are available.
The Sacramento Bee, Calif. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/business/national/8152149.htm

MERCURY
Mercury is a potent toxin - long-lasting, readily spread through droplets and evaporation, and easily absorbed through the lungs. If inhaled on the job, it is considered an occupational hazard for which evacuation and hazardous materials cleanup are required.
The Record (Free Registration - Search Mecury
http://www.northjersey.com/ 

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WORKER AWARDED $20 MILLION AGAINST FRAGRANCE COMPANY
Popcorn worker with lung disease wins $20M jury award
A jury awarded $20 million Monday to a Missouri factory worker who says his lungs were destroyed by the butter flavoring used in microwave popcorn.
Eric Peoples, 32, is the first of 30 former workers at Gilster-Mary Lee, a popcorn factory in Jasper, Mo., to have his case go to trial. All have severe lung problems.
US Today
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2004-03-15-popcorn-lawsuit-award_x.htm

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AIA PRAISES WISCONSIN LEGISLATURE’S PASSAGE OF “JUNK SCIENCE” BILL
The American Insurance Association (AIA) today commended the Wisconsin legislature’s passage of a key measure to keep “junk science” out of the courtroom.
The bill, SB 49, applies the “Daubert” federal expert witness standard to Wisconsin’s courts. As a result, expert witnesses will only be permitted to offer testimony that is based on sufficient facts and data and is the product of reliable principles and methods that have been properly applied to the facts of a particular case.
.http://www.aiadc.org/dochandler.asp?file=/outbound/pubaffairs/PA_11992_13676.htm&root=\\webdb1

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CALENDAR

THIS YEAR IN WORKERS' COMPENSATION - Wednesday, April 14:, 2004 -NJ / ICLE, New Brunswick, NJ 
http://www.njicle.com
Introductory Remarks – Emerging Issues in Workers’ Compensation:
Does Workers’ Compensation Need a Prescription Change?-Jon L. Gelman, Co-Moderator
Going & Coming Rule
Medical Treatment – Navigating the System
Medical Monitoring – Does it Belong in Workers’ Compensation
Counsel Fees – How to Apply Counsel Fees Under the New Administrative Directives
Judicial Perspectives
Introductory Remarks – The Proposed Administrative Rules
Circumventing the “Exclusivity Rule
Compensation for Terrorist Activitie
Medicare Claims – How to Prepare a Claim for Settlement and Approval
Statute of Limitations – New Defenses and Newly Enacted Legislation
Compensating Workers for Vinyl Chloride Exposure
Coverage Issues for Sub-Contractors

Registration
http://www.njicle.com/cgi-bin/njicle?SessionID=40&doc=/Seminars/WC_4-14-04.htm

NOSSCR Social Security Disability Law Conference - National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives - May 12-15, 2004 San Diego, CA - Topics include intensive medical issues to Medicare and how it impacts WC. San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina 
http://www.nosscr.com

NYCOSH’S 25th Anniversary Awards Celebration, Friday, May 14th, 2004 6 - 8:30 P.M. 
http://www.nycosh.org/calendar.html

NCSI 2004 Annual National Council of Self-Insurers Meeting. May 16-19, 2004. Held at the Don CeSar Beach Resort & Spa in St. Petersburg, Florida. Additional information: Larry Holt, Executive Director, National Council of Self-Insurers, 1253 Springfield Avenue, PMB 345, New Providence, NJ 07974 (908/665-2152). Website: 
http:// www.natcouncil.com

CMS Regional Conference - Medicare Secondary Payer - Jun 23-25, 2004 - Atlanta GA 
http://www.mediproseminars.com/

SAWCA 56th Annual Convention. June 21-25, 2004. Held at the Inn at Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Sponsored by: SAWCA (Southern Association of Workers' Compensation Administrators), 25 Lazy Eight Drive, Port Orange, FL 32128 (386/304-1993).

SEAK 24t Annual National Workers' Compensation and Occupational Medicine Seminar. July 20-22, 2004. Held at the Sheraton Hyannis Resort in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Sponsored by SEAK, Inc., P.O. Box 729, Falmouth, MA 02541 (781-261-9972). Website: 
http://www.seak.com 

AASCIF 2004 American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds Conference. August 1-4, 2004. Held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Additional information: (952/838-4245) or 
http://www.aascif.org

AIABC 90th Annual I Convention. August 5-10, 2004. Held at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers in New York City. Sponsored by the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). Additional information: IAIABC (608/663-6355). Website: 
http://www.iaiabc.org