SAN FRANCISCO - An insurer told a federal court in New York on Jan. 6 that the issue of whether a workers' compensation claim dispute can be arbitrated and what parties should participate in the arbitration is up to the court and not up to a panel of arbitrators to decide (In the Matter of the Arbitration Between National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA v. Federal Insurance Company, No. 16-cv-08821, S.D. N.Y.).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Because the state's workers' compensation system contemplates coverage for mesothelioma, the law's exclusivity provision bars a tort action against an employer, even where the disease arose outside the period for filing a claim, the Arkansas Supreme Court held Dec. 15 in a 4-3 opinion (Brenda Hendrix, et al. v. Alcoa Inc., No. CV-15-558, Ark. Sup.).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The complexity of asbestos cases requires that the workers' compensation commissioner have the power to grant provisional dismissals to "clear the room" and then reinstate claims as necessary, Connecticut's top court held in an opinion set for release on Dec. 20 (John Graham, et al. v. Olson Wood Associates Inc., et al., No. SC 19626, Conn. Sup.; 2016 Conn. LEXIS 371).
NEW YORK - An alleged reinsurer told a federal court in New York on Dec. 13 that an arbitration panel, and not the court, should decide the proper parties to a workers' compensation reinsurance coverage dispute (In the Matter of the Arbitration Between National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA v. Federal Insurance Company, No. 16-cv-08821, S.D. N.Y.).
CAMDEN, N.J. - The owner of a labor staffing firm and the manager committed workers' compensation fraud when misrepresenting the job descriptions of its employees in an attempt to obtain avoid paying for workers' compensation insurance, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled Dec. 14 in granting in part Travelers Property Casualty Insurance Co.'s motion for summary judgment (Travelers Property Casualty Insurance Company v. Quickstuff LLC, et al., No. 14-6105, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172522).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Canada's 10 provincial workers' compensation boards on Dec. 9 got more time from a North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge to vote on the Chapter 11 plan for Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC so they can finalize a $20 million settlement with the debtor and related companies of the boards' claims for payments made to more than 1,300 Canadian workers suffering from asbestos diseases (In re: Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, et al., No. 10-31607, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
ALBANY, N.Y. - A state system designed to compensate injured police officers does not constitute a workers' compensation system and allows for a tort action alleging exposure to asbestos while in the employ of the city of Buffalo, a divided New York Court of Appeals held Nov. 21 (In the Matter of James R. Diegelman, et al. v. City of Buffalo, et al., No. 168, N.Y. App.).
WEST DRAYTON, England - Oil and mining industrial services company Cape PLC announced Nov. 18 that a changing legal landscape means potential damages from an upcoming January trial over liabilities for a former asbestos factory could exceed expectations, potentially endangering a payment scheme designed to compensate injured workers and their family members.
SAN DIEGO - A California appeals panel on Nov. 14 upheld a trial judge's decision to require a man convicted of making false statements to physicians in connection with a workers' compensation claim to pay $30,154.02 to a risk services company, after finding that the defendant was unable to show that the amount should be limited to expenses caused by the crime for which he was convicted (The People of the State of California v. Chany Lopez, No. D069140, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 1; 2016 Calif. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8197).
LOS ANGELES - After finding that a former Red Cross employee's claims for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL), fraud and other claims against her former employer did not arise under California's workers' compensation law, a California federal judge on Nov. 4 denied her ex parte application to remand the case to a state court (Xochitl Nisbet v. American National Red Cross, et al., No. 16-7342, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153626).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The liquidator of an insolvent insurer asked a Pennsylvania court on Nov. 3 to approve a plan by which a reinsurer will make direct payments of workers' compensation and employers' liability claims to an insured, thus relieving the insolvent insurer of its obligations to the insured (In re: Reliance Insurance Company in Liquidation, No. 1 REL 2001, Pa. Cmwlth.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Two claimants in Libby, Mont., seeking to hold insurers of W.R. Grace & Co. liable for their asbestos injuries can pursue negligence and bad faith claims in state court against an insurer based on workers' compensation policies not covered by W.R. Grace's Chapter 11 reorganization; however, similar claims in other state court actions are barred by an injunction in W.R. Grace's case channeling asbestos claims to a trust for resolution, a Delaware federal bankruptcy judge ruled Oct. 17 (In re: W.R. Grace & Co., et al., No. 01-01139 [Ralph Hutt and Carl Osborn v. Maryland Casualty Company, No. 14-50867], [Continental Casualty Company, et al. v. Jeremy B. Carr, et al., No. 15-50766], D. Del. Bkcy.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - One of the defendants being sued in connection with injuries suffered by two workers when a lithium battery exploded during a hydraulic fracturing operation filed an answer and counterclaim in Oklahoma federal court on Oct. 14, contending that the plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and that it is entitled to immunity under the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Act (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation, et al., and Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation v. Engineered Power LP, et al., No. 15-145, W.D. Okla.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A mesothelioma sufferer has standing to pursue, and the court has jurisdiction over, claims that an employer and its insurer are not making timely payments under North Carolina's workers' compensation statutes, a federal judge in North Carolina held Sept. 9 (James Norman Richardson v. PCS Phosphate Company Inc., et al., No. 16-00068, W.D. N.C; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122354).
PHILADELPHIA - A firefighter's failure to link occupation exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens to his prostate cancer dooms his workers' compensation claim, a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held Sept. 7 (Earl Hutz v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board [City of Philadelphia], No. 2140 C.D. 2015, Pa. Cmwlth.; 2016 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 382).
LAS VEGAS - An insurer did not act in bad faith in failing to pay an insured the policy limits under the underinsured motorist (UIM) provision of an automobile insurance policy because the insured had received payments from workers' compensation for his injuries that were deducted from the insurance payment, a federal judge in Nevada ruled Sept. 7 in granting the insurer's motion for reconsideration (Jose R. Luna v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. 15-1104, D. Nev.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120598).
RUTLAND, Vt. - An insured's bad faith lawsuit against her former employer's workers' compensation insurance provider is subject to the primary jurisdiction doctrine and, thus, is subject to a stay pending the outcome of the insured's workers' compensation proceedings with the Vermont Department of Labor (DOL), a federal judge in Vermont ruled Aug. 26 (Annemieke Graven Meau v. Sentry Casualty Co., No. 15-67, D. Vt.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113653).