Five Recent Cases You Should Know About (3/11/2011)

Five Recent Cases You Should Know About (3/11/2011)

Larson's Spotlight on MRSA Infection, Exposure to Chemical Cloud, Psychological Injury, Tort Action, and Employment Contract. 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.

OR: Worker's MRSA Infection Was an Accidental Injury, Not an Occupational Disease

An Oregon appellate court recently affirmed a ruling by the state's Workers' Compensation Board that a worker's condition—a methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection—was an injury, as opposed to a disease, for purposes of the Workers' Compensation Law.  The distinction was important because in Oregon, for a disease to be compensable, employment conditions must be the major contributing cause of the disease, whereas, for an injury to be compensable, work need only be a material contributing cause of the injury.  The Board concluded that the MRSA infection was an injury, that the employment was a material contributing cause, and that the injury was, therefore, compensable.  The appellate court noted that the worker was required to wear steel-toed boots, that with each new pair there was a "breaking-in" period, that the worker noticed a red area on a toe as he was breaking in a pair of boots, and his medical expert opined that the boot was likely "involved" in the MRSA infection.  The court indicated that the onset of the condition was sudden and as such constituted an accident.  The worker need not, therefore, prove that the employment conditions were the major contribution cause of the condition.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 Ore. App. LEXIS 279. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven’t registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 51.01.

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WY: Worker Is Unsuccessful in Establishing Claim for Alleged Exposure to "Chemical Cloud" While Driving

The Supreme Court of Wyoming recently affirmed a decision by a trial court that had, in turn, upheld the denial of a workers' compensation claim filed by a worker who alleged she sustained an injury arising from exposure to a chemical cloud while driving in the course of her employment.  The high court agreed that the medical professionals who evaluated the worker were unable, without mere speculation, to opine that her injury more probably than not arose out of her employment, as required by Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 27-14-102(a)(xi). The court agreed that the worker's story was incredible and uncorroborated, and an investigation produced no possible source of the alleged chemical cloud. While she described a significant event involving a "horrible smell" that caused her to experience serious symptoms, required her to pull off of the highway, caused her to lose track of time and perhaps lose consciousness, she did not seek medical care until two days later after meeting with her client.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 Wyo. LEXIS 34. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven’t registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 130.05.

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MS: Department Store Employee Fails to Establish Psychological Injury under State's "Clear and Convincing" Evidence Standard

The Court of Appeals of Mississippi recently affirmed a decision by a county circuit court that had, in turn, affirmed a decision by the state's Workers' Compensation Commission denying a worker's claim for benefits resulting from an alleged psychological or mental injury.  Noting that with regard to psychological or mental injuries, the claimant must establish the claim by "clear and convincing" evidence, the appellate court refused to second-guess the Commission.  Observing that while the claimant did offer evidence from one doctor that her depression was the result of pain associated with an admitted work-related injury, the court noted that two other physicians had opined that there was no work connection between claimant's depression and the work place.  Moreover, the claimant's own expert had acknowledged that he was speculating as to the association.  Resolving the conflict in medical evidence was for the Commission, not the appellate courts, indicated the Court of Appeals.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 Miss. App. LEXIS 117. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven’t registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, §§ 56.03, 56.05.

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AL: Charity Was Worker's Special Employer and Enjoyed Immunity from Tort Action

An Alabama appellate court recently reversed a trial court's Order denying defendant Salvation Army's motion for summary judgment in a negligence action filed against it by a worker who had been employed by a temporary-employment agency and assigned to work for the charity.  The court noted that it was undisputed that the worker was the employee of the temporary-employment agency and that the agency contracted with the charity to supply it with various workers.  Quoting Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, the court stated that where a general employer lends an employee to a special employer, the special employer becomes liable for workers' compensation only if (a) the employee had made a contract of hire, express or implied, with the special employer; (b) the work being done was essentially that of the special employer; and (c) the special employer had the right to control the details of the work performed.  Here the only issue related to requirement "(a)" (the others were admitted by the worker).  Citing a line of cases previously decided by Alabama courts, the appellate court held that there was an implied contract of hire between the charity and the injured worker.  The trial court should have entered summary judgment, therefore, in favor of the charity.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 50. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven’t registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 67.01, 111.01.

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FL: Contract of Employment Completed in Florida In Spite of Worker's Need to Travel to Utah

That a worker could not begin work until he arrived in Utah did not mean the worker's contract of employment was not formed in Florida, held a Florida appellate court recently.  Evidence that the worker, while residing in Florida, was offered, and he accepted, employment with the employer was not negated by the fact that he had to travel to Utah to pick up a truck owned by the employer to perform his work.  The appellate court distinguished the instant case from an earlier case in which the express terms of the offer of employment specifically provided that the claimant would not be hired until and unless he arrived at the employer's place of business in Georgia.  Here, the offer of employment was not conditioned upon claimant's presence in Utah, the contract of employment was fully created prior to the time the claimant embarked on the trip to pick up the truck.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 Fla. App. LEXIS 2672. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven’t registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 143.03.

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

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