Five Recent Cases You Should Know About (4/15/2011)

Larson's Spotlight on Termination of Benefits, Employee Status, Penalty for Unreasonable Defense of Claim, Wrongful Death, and Loss of Sight. 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.

PA: Suspension or Termination of Benefits Not Necessarily Required for Police Officer Convicted of Child Endangerment

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently affirmed a decision by the state's Workers' Compensation Appeal Board that denied a suspension and termination petition filed by the employer of a university police officer and SWAT team member, who received wage loss and other workers' compensation benefits for a work-related injury and who was subsequently convicted of second degree misdemeanors for child endangerment, criminal conspiracy to commit the offense, and simple assault.  The court agreed that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that the officer's loss of earnings was unrelated to his work injury and was related to his convictions.  The law judge found that the officer could not return to his duties due to his job injury; his certification status was irrelevant. The court further observed that the employer had not shown that the employee's officer certificate had actually been revoked or that due to his convictions, his job was terminated.

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 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 163. 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, §§ 64.03, 84.04.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN lexisONE AND LexisNexis? Compare the differences between lexisONE free case law and LexisNexis fully featured case law to see what you get with each service.

SC: "Repo Driver" Was Employee for Purposes of Workers' Compensation Benefits—Not an Independent Contractor

A "repo driver" who was rendered a paraplegic as a result of an auto accident that occurred while he was repossessing a vehicle was an employee of the repossession company, and not an independent contractor and accordingly was entitled to lifetime benefits for a total and permanent disability, said the Supreme Court of South Carolina, affirming an earlier decision by the state's Court of Appeals.  Quoting Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, Ch. 61, § 61.04 and reiterating the Supreme Court's holding in Wilkinson ex rel. Wilkinson v. Palmetto State Transportation Co., 382 S.C. 295, 676 S.E.2d 700 (2009) that evaluates four principal common law factors indicating the right of control: (1) direct evidence of the right to, or exercise of, control; (2) the method of payment; (3) the furnishing of equipment; and (4) the right to fire, and evaluates the four factors with equal force, the high court said that it was convinced that the four factors preponderated in a finding that the driver was an employee and not an independent contractor.

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 S.C. LEXIS 105. 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, § 61.04.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN lexisONE AND LexisNexis? Compare the differences between lexisONE free case law and LexisNexis fully featured case law to see what you get with each service.

MA: Penalty For Unreasonable Defense of Claim Inappropriate Where Alternative Evidence, if Believed, Might Have Defeated Claim

A carrier's decision to defend a case was reasonable and the state board's decision to reverse a law judge's award of a penalty—double back benefits and costs pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 152, § 14(1)—against the carrier was appropriate, held the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recently.  While the employee testified that he crossed the street after completing his shift to use a radio in one of the employer's trucks in order to contact his supervisor about additional work, the carrier interviewed a witness who suggested that the employee had run into the street to catch a bus. The law judge's characterization of evidence that the employee was still working at the time of the accident as "uncontroverted" was clearly error.   The carrier's evidence provided a clear alternative to the version offered by the employee.  The carrier was not unreasonable in litigating the issue. 

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 Mass. LEXIS 162. 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, § 135.02.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN lexisONE AND LexisNexis? Compare the differences between lexisONE free case law and LexisNexis fully featured case law to see what you get with each service.

MO: Plaintiffs May Maintain Wrongful Death Action Against Uninsured Employer In Spite of Recovering Workers' Compensation Benefits from Separate Statutory Employer

In a case of first impression within the state, a Missouri appellate court has held that the plaintiffs may maintain their wrongful death action against an employer who failed to secure workers' compensation insurance covering his employees in spite of the fact that the plaintiffs successfully sought workers' compensation death benefits and burial expenses against a statutory employer.  Finding that the employer, by not complying with the workers' compensation law, had subjected himself to being sued in a civil case and that the workers' compensation award had not been entered against the uninsured employer, but against the statutory employer alone, the court indicated that the workers' compensation award and the civil action were not inconsistent remedies.  Quoting Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, Ch. 102, § 102.02[2], the court indicated that nothing in the Workers' Compensation Act prohibited an employee or his dependents from recovering workers' compensation from one employer and tort damages from another employer who failed to secure workers' compensation insurance for its employees.  In fact, the plain language of section 287.280.1 Rev. Stat. Mo. allowed it.

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 Mo. App. LEXIS 489. 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, § 102.02.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN lexisONE AND LexisNexis? Compare the differences between lexisONE free case law and LexisNexis fully featured case law to see what you get with each service.

OK: Artificial Lens Allowing Restoration of Sight Means No Award for Loss of Sight

Implantation of an artificial lens within the injured worker's eye constituted a prosthetic device under Okla. Stat. tit. 85, § 15 (1991) and Okla. Stat. tit. 68, § 1357.6(C) (Supp. 2010) and was a permanent improvement, rather than a correction, so that the claimant had no loss of sight within the meaning of Okla. Stat. tit. 85, § 171 (Supp. 2000), held the Supreme Court of Oklahoma recently. The claimant had requested a determination of 100% PPD for the loss of use of her left eye based on her uncorrected vision or 46% PPD after the intraocular lens corrections was considered. Relying on earlier case law, the court held that the effect of the implanted lens was different than the effect of a corrective device. The court indicated that an artificial intraocular lens has a degree of permanence unlike eyeglasses or contact lenses.

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 Okla. LEXIS 26. 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, § 86.04.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN lexisONE AND LexisNexis? Compare the differences between lexisONE free case law and LexisNexis fully featured case law to see what you get with each service.

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

For more information about LexisNexis products and solutions connect with us through our corporate site.