Larson’s Spotlight on Recent Cases: Idiopathic Fall From Bridge Arose From Employment

Larson's Spotlight on Idiopathic Fall, Hepatitis, Slip and Fall, and Heart Attack. 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.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

KY: Idiopathic Fall-or Was it a Jump?-From Highway Bridge Arose From the Employment

A highway construction worker, who suffered from type I diabetes, was insulin dependent, and whose work required him to be present on a bridge some 60 feet above a river, likely became disoriented due to hypoglycemia on the evening he climbed over a safety barrier and jumped from the bridge, causing serious injury, held the Supreme Court of Kentucky recently in an unpublished opinion.  Reversing a decision by the state's Court of Appeals and quoting a prior decision that in turn quoted Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, the court said there was "little doubt" that the employment placed the worker in a position increasing the dangerous effects of an idiopathic fall. Observing that the ALJ had concluded that the worker's fall was due to confusion caused by hypoglycemia, and not a suicide attempt, the high court remanded the case for further proceedings.

See Hampton v. Intech Contracting, LLC, 2013 Ky. Unpub. LEXIS 17 (Mar. 21, 2013) [2013 Ky. Unpub. LEXIS 17 (Mar. 21, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 9.01 [9.01]

MO: Claimant Need Not Prove, by Medical Certainty, That Deceased's Hepatitis Was Caused by Workplace Exposure

A Missouri appellate court recently reversed a decision by the state's Labor and Industrial Relations Commission that concluded the surviving spouse of a laboratory technician had failed to establish that her husband's death from complications associated with hepatitis C was work-related. It was undisputed that the technician came into contact with blood and other body fluids on many occasions in his workplace, but the Commission found that the claimant failed to provide evidence that the employee was exposed to hepatitis C in the workplace. The appellate court held that the Commission required too much, that the workers' compensation law did not require a claimant to establish, by a medical certainty, that his or her injury was caused by an occupational disease in order to be eligible for compensation.  Instead, the claimant was required to establish a causal connection between the conditions of employment and the occupational disease.  The court observed that the claimant offered medical expert testimony that the deceased's work at the medical center and his daily exposure to blood put him at a greater risk of contracting hepatitis C and that it was more likely than not that the deceased acquired his hepatitis C infection due to his occupational exposure, either by a needle stick or by handling blood and body products.  Such evidence was sufficient to meet the claimant's burden of production on the issue of causation, held the appellate court.

See Smith v. Capital Region Med. Ctr., 2013 Mo. App. LEXIS 376 (Mar. 26, 2013) [2013 Mo. App. LEXIS 376 (Mar. 26, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 5.05 [5.05].

OH: Volunteer Children's Advocate Was Not Employee: She Could Not Recover for Injuries Sustained in Slip and Fall

A volunteer court-appointed special advocate for children, who alleged that she sustained injuries in a fall while visiting a client's home, was not an employee and could not, therefore, recover workers' compensation benefits, held an Ohio appellate court recently.  The court observed that Ohio Rev. Code § 4123.01(A)(1)(a) and (b) spoke of "a contract for hire."  The court said it was undisputed that the volunteer did not receive any form of compensation for her volunteer advocacy; there was no agreement or obligation to compensate her.  Nor was there any evidence that either party presumed an employment relationship had been established and there was no evidence of a contract for hire, express or implied, oral or written.  Having failed to establish her status as an employee, or to establish an employee-employer relationship, no further analysis was required with regard to the injury and participation in the workers' compensation fund.

See Margello v. Parachute & Special Advocates for Children, 2013 Ohio 1106, 2013 Ohio App. LEXIS 994 (Mar. 25, 2013) [2013 Ohio App. LEXIS 994 (Mar. 25, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 64.01 [64.01].

NY: Death 24 Years After Work-Related Heart Attack Held Not Compensable

A New York appellate court recently affirmed a finding by the state's Workers' Compensation Board that ruled the death of claimant's husband was not causally related to his employment and denied claimant's claim for workers' compensation death benefits where the decedent sustained two work-related heart attacks in 1982 and 1986 that rendered him permanently totally disabled and he died in October 2010, at the age of 77, twenty-four years after he suffered the second work-related heart attack.  The appellate court noted that the carrier had introduced a report and testimony of a board-certified cardiologist who opined that there was no correlation between decedent's two heart attacks and his death. The physician explained that decedent's death was caused by atherosclerosis, a slowly progressing disease based on underlying genetic factors that were exacerbated by decedent's smoking and hypertension. While there was some medical evidence in the record that supported a contrary conclusion, the court indicated that the Board's decision was supported by substantial evidence.

See Boaro v. Kings Park Psychiatric Ctr., 2013 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1856 (Mar. 21, 2013) [2013 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1856 (Mar. 21, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 10.02 [10.02].

Source: Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, the nation's leading authority on workers' compensation law.

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