Larson’s Spotlight on Recent Cases: Court Questions Sufficient Nexus Where Injured Worker Hit by Car Returning From Physical Therapy Appointment

Larson's Spotlight on Intervening Cause, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Exclusive Remedy, and Offset. Larson's surveys the latest case developments that you need to know about. Thomas A. Robinson, the staff writer for Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, has compiled the list below.

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MD: Injuries Sustained While Returning From Physical Therapy Session to Treat the Effects of Earlier Work-Related Injury Are Not Necessarily Compensable

A Maryland appellate court, reversing a decision by a county circuit court, recently held that there was not a sufficient nexus to allow for an award of workers' compensation benefits for the second of claimant's two accidents where he injured his right knee when he was hit by a car while returning from lunch on a day on which he had attended physical therapy for a prior work-related injury to his back and left knee. While there was a "but for" connection between the two injuries, the claimant's second injury was not caused by his first injury; the negligent actions of the driver whose car hit the claimant intervened and were not at all connected to the first injury. Only the actions of the driver, and not the first injury, had a direct and material causal relationship to the claimant's second injury. Because the circuit court did not address the issue of whether the second injury, standing alone, was compensable, remand was necessary.

See Washington Metro Area Transit Auth. v. Williams, 2012 Md. App. LEXIS 46 (Apr. 26, 2012).

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 10.07.

IA: Forty Years of Cigarette Smoking, Not Cold Conditions of the Employer's Meat Packing Facility Caused Claimant's COPD

An Iowa appellate court recently affirmed a decision that held an employee's disability from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was not causally connected to his employment in employer's meat packing facility, where he was exposed to cold temperatures, water vapor and sanitizing chemicals, but was more likely caused by his 40-year cigarette habit, during which he smoked one to three packs daily.

See Serratos v. Tyson Foods, 2012 Iowa App. LEXIS 291 (Apr. 25, 2012).

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, §§ 52.06, 130.05.

HI: Former Employee's Suit Against Co-Employees Related to Allegedly False Claims and Harassment Were Barred By Exclusivity-Claim for Wrongful Termination Not Barred

Applying the exclusive remedy provisions of the state's workers' compensation law [HRS § 386-5], an appellate court in Hawaii held that a former employee's suit against her former employer for alleged injuries suffered because of her employment, which were caused by the alleged willful acts of her co-employees acting in the course and scope of their employment were barred, but that her claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy was not barred.  Accordingly, that claim could move forward.  She claimed that she was accosted by co-employees, who accused her of stealing money from the cash register and from a wallet.  She sought and recovered workers' compensation benefits for a stress related injury claim.

See Yang v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, 2012 Haw. App. LEXIS 449 (Apr. 30, 2012).

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 104.07, 111.03.

CO: Offset of Permanent Total Benefits With Old-Age Social Security Payments Was Appropriate

A Colorado appellate court recently determined that the permitted offset of permanent total disability payments with old-age Social Security payments under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-42-103(1)(c)(I) did not result in an equal protection violation; there was a rational basis for doing so, to-wit; a governmental purpose and desire to avoid a duplication of benefits.

See Zerba v. Dillon Cos., Inc., 2012 Colo. App. LEXIS 638 (Apr. 26, 2012).

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 157.03.

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