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Workers' Compensation

North Carolina: No Sanctions Against Girlfriend Who Tried to Overturn Existing Law

The North Carolina Industrial Commission has broad discretion in refusing to order sanctions for allegedly “stubborn, unfounded litigiousness,” reiterated a state appellate court. Accordingly, it was within the province of the Commission to refuse to impose sanctions against the girlfriend of an employee who filed a claim seeking death benefits following the death of an employee with whom she lived, but to whom she was not married. Under Fields v. Hollowell & Hollowell, 238 N.C. 614, 78 S.E.2d 740 (1953), “a woman living in cohabitation with a man, to whom she is not married,” cannot be considered a dependent [see Fields, 238 N.C. at 618, 78 S.E.2d at 743]. The deceased employee’s family contended that the girlfriend’s claim was without reasonable ground, therefore, and that the Commission should have sanctioned the woman. The appellate court disagreed with the family. The Commission had determined that the girlfriend’s claim had been a “good faith argument for … reversal of the existing law.” The Commission was within its discretion to refuse to enter sanctions.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the co-Editor-in-Chief and Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law(LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See West v. Hoyle’s Tire & Axle, LLC, 2021-NCCOA-151, 2021 N.C. App. LEXIS 153 (Apr. 14, 2021)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 97.06.

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

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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