While retaining jurisdiction, the NJ Appellate Division remanded a case that was lingering for 10 years back to the Compensation Judge for an explanation on the record or in writing within 16 days. The Appellate Court stated, “…we do not know why petitioner’s claim did not get a hearing for so many years.”
The 3 claim petitions that were filed between 1993 and 1994 involved back injuries. The Appellate Court found “substantial ambiguity in his [trial Judge’s] expressed conclusions and the burden of proof he [trial Judge] applied.”
The Appellate Court held that there was causal relationship between occupational exposure and the employee’s injury or illness and that need only be established to a “material” degree by a preponderance of the evidence. The Court rejected the need to impose a higher standard of proof that the Fiore decision Fiore v. Consolidated Freightways, 140 NJ 452 (NJ 1995) imposed only on cardiovascular injuries. The Fiore decision, an occupational heart claim) imposed a much more stringent requirement in cardiovascular cases that the petitioner must prove that the work experience (exposure) exceed personal factors such as smoking) as a cause of the ultimate medical condition.
Anderson v. S& M Electric, Co., (App. Div. 2003) A-3787-01T5 (Decided 5.13.03)