Workers' Compensation

Illinois: Death Benefits Awarded for Exotic Medical Condition Contracted on Trip to Brazil

An Illinois appellate court has affirmed an award of death benefits to the widow of an executive who died after contracting Neisseria meningitides, apparently while on a business trip to Brazil. The appellate court noted that the parties had proferred conflicting medical evidence, but indicated it was the province of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission to resolve any such conflicts and make a determination as to the credibility of the various witnesses. The widow’s experts opined, in relevant part, that Sao Paulo was a well-known area where there was an increased prevalence of Neisseria meningitides. While the disease was rare, even in Sao Paulo, the endemic rate there was at least twice that of the United States. The executive died within a few days of returning from Brazil. Earlier, the executive had traveled to Japan and China where medical experts indicated he likely contracted bronchitis that made him more susceptible to the deadly strain of Neisseria meningitides. The employer countered that the incubation period for the disease was two to ten days, pointing to a time before the executive traveled to Brazil and that there was no evidence showing that the executive had come in direct contact with anyone carrying the disease germs while in Brazil. The court disagreed, noting the executive had been in public places and that evidence supported the Commission’s findings.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

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See Omron Electronics v. Illinois Workers’ Comp. Comm’n (Bauer), 2014 Ill. App. LEXIS 793 (Nov. 14, 2014) [2014 Ill. App. LEXIS 793 (Nov. 14, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 51.03 [51.03]

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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

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