Workers' Compensation News - JuL 10, 2006, Volume 4 Issue 407
NJ GOVERNOR CLOSES WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURTS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO STATE BUDGETARY CRISIS
Governor Jon S. Corzine today signed an Executive Order to immediately begin the orderly shutdown of non-essential state government functions. This step was taken after the midnight constitutional deadline for enacting a balanced budget passed.
NJ SUPREME COURT ISSUES CLOSURE NOTICE - MUNICIPAL COURTS REMAIN OPEN
Therefore, until otherwise notified, all state courts and other Judiciary operations will be closed on Monday, July 3 except for emergent matters and other essential functions as set forth in the Shutdown Plan.
NEW SURGEON GENERAL'S REPORT FOCUSES ON THE EFFECTS OF SECONDHAND SMOKE
U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona today issued a comprehensive scientific report which concludes that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. The finding is of major public health concern due to the fact that nearly half of all nonsmoking Americans are still regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.
The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General
ALLERGY NURSE RECEIVES COMPENSATION
An RAF dental nurse whose career was ruined by a potentially fatal allergy to latex gloves has been awarded £260,000 compensation. Lisa Furphy, 35, had to be invalided out of the RAF in 2004 because of her allergy to powdered latex gloves. It developed after years of exposure to the gloves while assisting dentists. Ms Furphy sued the Ministry of Defence, which agreed to settle her case for £260,000 at London's High Court on 27 June. Ms Furphy, who attained the rank of sergeant after joining the RAF in 1987, will have to cope with the condition and carefully avoid latex exposure for the rest of her life. Although her condition was not formally diagnosed until April 2003, her lawyers claimed medical warnings had been given years earlier but not enough was done to ensure that she was not exposed to powdered latex gloves in the workplace. After years of experiencing breathing problems and other symptoms, the crisis came when she suffered an anaphylactic attack while working at RAF Holton in 2003. Nurse Bernadette Chouchene received £144,000 in compensation last year after her allergy to latex gloves went untreated for years (Risks 197). In December 2004, UNISON member and former nurse Alison Dugmore received a £330,000 payout for life-threatening latex allergy (Risks 186).
Aylesbury Today. BBC News Online
"SMOKING GUN" FOUND IN ASBESTOS CASE
An insurance giant that tried to evade payment of asbestos compensation in the UK is facing the prospect of a massive asbestos bill in the US after it inadvertently handed over a 'smoking gun' document in a court battle with General Motors. Royal & SunAlliance is attempting to recover the document that the US car manufacturer claims to be the killer evidence in its $1bn (£550m) lawsuit over personal injury liabilities linked to asbestos. 'It's like a smoking gun, your honour,' GM's legal counsel, Edward Tessler, told the court. GM told the Oakland County Court in Pontiac, Michigan, that it had found a handwritten memo which it claims to be conclusive proof that the insurer was liable for the claims. GM alleges the memo contains an admission of liability by one of the insurer's former senior US executives. Royal & SunAlliance has said the document records a confidential conversation and should be inadmissible to the court as evidence. The insurer also said that the document had been 'inadvertently' included among the 2,000 boxes of documents that changed hands, and that it is entitled to ask for it to be withdrawn. GM is suing Royal & SunAlliance in both America and Britain. In 2003, a UK court told the insurance company it must payout claims to former employees of Turner and Newell, once Britain's biggest asbestos firm.
NYC POLICE UNION CONSIDERING REGISTRY FOR 9-11 DISEASES
The nation's largest police union plans to launch its own medical registry to track cancers and other life-threatening diseases hitting 9/11 responders, saying the federally funded World Trade Center medical monitoring program has kept them in the dark.
ACORN Report: Sherwin-Williams Knew Paint Was Toxic
ACORN released a study, “Sherwin-Williams: Covering Our Communities with Toxics," and called on local and state governments to file lawsuits and take other action, including the divestment of public pension funds, to force the company to help fund lead paint clean-up.
“For decades Sherwin-Williams knowingly covered our country’s homes in poison paint,” said ACORN President Maude Hurd. “Now it is time for Sherwin-Williams to own up to its responsibility and use some its profits to help make more homes lead safe, so that we can prevent more children from being poisoned in the future.”
WELDING FUMES: DOES A FEDERAL COURT DECISION FINALLY RESOLVE THE ISSUE?
Does Welding Make You Sick? Industry won an early round, but a mass tort battle could be brewing
Over 10,000 lawsuits are still pending.
NJ DEPT OF LABOR RELEASES PERSONAL INFORMATION BY MISTAKE
TRENTON, June 20, 2006 – A malfunction of mail processing equipment in the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) Postal Center occurred during the period between May 31 and June 7. This malfunction resulted in the unintentional distribution of personal information of up to 498 unemployment insurance claimants.
NJ ST. BARNABAS HOSPITAL TO PAY $265 MILLION TO SETTLE CMS OVERCHARGING FEDERAL CASES
A New Jersey hospital chain will pay $265 million to settle a pair of whistleblower lawsuits that claimed it had systematically inflated charges to Medicare patients in order to obtain enhanced reimbursements.
The Legal Intelligencer June 16, 2006
CORZINE TO NOMINATE DJ SOCOLOW AS COMMISSIONER DLWD
TRENTON, June 14, 2006 – Governor Jon S. Corzine today announced his intention to nominate Acting Commissioner David J. Socolow to be Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
TENANT HEALTH CORP. TO PAY $725 MILLION TO SETTLE MEDICARE OVER CHARGING CLAIM
Hospital operator Tenet Healthcare Corp. announced an agreement with the Justice Department to pay $725 million to settle allegations that it gamed the Medicare program to trigger extraordinarily large payments to the company in 2000 to 2002.
The Wall Street Journal JUne 29, 2006 (Subscription Required)
NJ ASSEMBLY PASSES BILL TO RAISE EXPENSE REINBURSEMENT IN 3RD PARTY CLAIMS
The Assembly Labor Committee reports favorably Assembly Bill No.2336, with committee amendments.
As amended by the committee, this bill provides that if an employer is reimbursed for workers’ compensation payments from a sum recovered by an injured employee from a third party found liable in connection with the employee’s accident, the amount reimbursed to the employer shall be reduced by the amount, up to $750, for all expenses of the suit, other than attorney's fees, incurred by the employee in conducting the suit against the third party.
Current law provides that the amount reimbursed to the employer may not be reduced by more than $200 for employee expenses in a third party suit (other than attorney's fees), no matter how large those expenses are. The reduced reimbursement to the employer caused by raising the limit of the amount of deducted expenses from $200 to $750 would benefit the injured employee, not providers of legal services, and would in no case reduce the total amount paid to the injured employee from workers' compensation benefits and the third party settlement. The $200 limit has not been increased since 1936.
The committee amendments provide that the maximum reduction of amount reimbursed to employers to cover employee costs is $750. Without the amendments, the bill set the maximum reduction at $1,000.