Workers' Compensation News - March 25, 2003 Volume 1 Issue 3

 Recent Unpublished Opinions:

McDuffie-Gordon v. State of N.J., et al., App. Div. (per euriam) (8 pp.)
The record supports the compensation judge's dismissal of petitioner's three consolidated petitions for compensation benefits, finding that petitioner failed to establish that he was harassed on his job as a corrections officer and that, at best, any psychological condition arising from his employment was minor or de minimus. [Decided March 11, 2003.]

Deiesus v. Home Laundry Services Co., Inc. v. Second Injury Fund, App. Div. (per curiam) (6 pp.) The court affirms the compensation judge's award to petitioner - a worker in respondent's commercial laundry facility - of
partial total disability for venous insufficiency in her legs, with accompanying varicose veins, arthritis and phlebitis; however, it remands on the judge's award of partial total disability for petitioner's pulmonary disability, chronic bronchitis and obstructive airway disease, due to the judge's reliance on concededly invalid test results obtained by one expert to support his findings. [Decided March 12, 2003.]

Woolf v. Consolidated NDE, Inc., App. Div. (per curiam) (3 pp.) The decedent was previously awarded temporary disability and medical benefits for cancer he developed as a radiographer for respondent, as a result of his long-term, daily workplace exposure to radiation; he moved for total permanent disability, but died a week later. His widow applied for and received dependent benefits; she then applied for permanent disability as the administratrix of his estate. The compensation judge accurately denied this application, noting that the estate did not have the right to pursue the claim for total disability in decedent's stead. The rights of dependents are governed by the statutory scheme; and the widow received those benefits. [Decided March 7, 2003.}

Borkowski v. Pathmark Stores, Inc., Div. of Workers' Compensation (Moneher, J.W.C.) (14 pp.) The issue in this case is the causal relationship of the various physical and psychiatric conditions from which petitioner suffers. Petitioner claims temporary total disability and payment of past and future orthopedic and psychiatric care, including neck and knee surgeries, as a consequence of two admittedly compensable accidents; respondent contends that petitioner's alcohol addiction and nonrelated emotional issues, rather than the work-related accidents, were
primarily responsible for her psychiatric illness; that prior arthritis was the debilitating cause of impairment, rather than the accidents; and that it has already furnished all of the treatment and disability payments
that were reasonable and necessary for her injuries. Reviewing all of the evidence, the compensation judge concludes that petition ~t is unable to work and is in need of medical treat t - since at least part of her
condition can i rove - and awards her temporary disability benefits. ]Decided Jan. 6, 2003.[

Ricci v. McDonald's Re aurant, etc., App. Div. (per curiam) (8 pp.) The petioner did not comply with the statutory requirem t of N.J.S.A. 34:15-17 - mandating notice of his lleged work-related injury to his employer - hover, the compensation judge concluded that peti oner's injury was derivative of an earlier issue and as compensable; the panel holds that this issue uires factual inquiry warranting a reversal of the judgement and a remand for a hearing to address is question. ]Decided March 17, 2003.[

Before the NJ Supreme Court:
A-25-02 Tomeo v. Thomas Whitesell Construction
Should the employer's conduct in modifying this snowblower allow the employee to sue the employer and avoid the exclusive remedy provision of the Workers' Compensation Act?

A-5-02 Crippen v. Central Jersey Concrete Pipe Co.
Should the employer's conduct in failing to correct the serious violations found by OSHA allow the employee to sue the employer and avoid the exclusive remedy provision of the Workers' Compensation Act?

A-37-02 Jumpp v. City of Ventnor
Where this employee's duties required twice-daily visits to City facilities, was the employee engaged in the direct performance of his duties, and therefore entitled to benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act, when he stopped while driving between facilities to pick up personal mail at the post-office and was injured in a fall while exiting the post-office?

Lead exposure:
At levels well below the current US occupational exposure limit guidelines (40 µg/dL), blood lead level is positively associated with both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and risks of both systolic and diastolic
hypertension among women aged 40 to 59 years. The relationship between blood lead level and systolic and diastolic hypertension is most pronounced in postmenopausal women. These results provide support for
continued efforts to reduce lead levels in the general population, especially women. JAMA. 2003;289:1523-1532.

Taxability of Social Security / Workers' Compensation Reduction:
Social Security disability may be reduced for workers' compensation and other public disability benefits. Oddly, the amounts deducted are included as benefits received for purposes of income tax. In effect, state workers' 
compensation is rendered taxable in an amount equal to the Social Security reduction, but only to the extent that Social Security is taxable for the year. ]I.R. Code §86(d)(3)[

Halliburton: Asbestos Suit Stay Extended until 7.21.03 while $4 Billion settlement worked out:;jsessionid=W2KYSZR5P1PXOCRBAE0CFFA?type=businessNews&storyID=2425752

NJ self -insured's association Spring seminar and vendor fair PNC Ctr,Holmdel, NJ May 9, 2003:
MARC A. COHEN, MD., F.A. C S FA.A.O.S will present the first portion of our program, "New Horizons for Spinal Surgery", an overview of spinal injuries which will include the function and anatomy of the spine, the
causes of hack pain and it's treatment, including the latest information on surgical techniques. He will address occupational back problems and discuss pre-existing disease and degenerative disc disease. Dr. Cohen brings over 20 years experience in orthopedic medicine to our panel.

Jeffrey D. Petersohn, MD. will present the second part of our program "Pain Care and Innovations in Pain Management". Pain management is becoming an integral part of managing patients with severe, intractable or chronic pain and, as such, is an important case management tool for
worker's compensation cases. Dr. Petersohn works in concert with surgeons and other medical professionals to achieve successful resolution of patient pain issues. He brings over 15 years experience in pain management and anesthesiology techniques to our panel.

Mr. Edward Shuman, Health South, will present the next portion of our program, "Functional Capacity Evaluations: A Valuable Tool for Making Decisions". Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE) play a very important role in the resolution of worker's compensation cases. Often they are the end result of months of treatments, including work hardening, physical therapy and pain management and are viewed as a significant part of "what's next" for the employee Out on worker's compensation disability.
Mr. Shuman, with 13 years of experience in the field, will focus on the various aspects leading to an FCE and what we, as employers, can expect as an outcome from a solid evaluation.

1 Joseph Drive Lincroft, NJ 07738 732-219-0319

W VA: State's comp rate high
Officials disagree about reasons behind W.Va.'s comparatively high figure