The Top 10 Workers' Compensation Cases of 2009

The Top 10 Workers' Compensation Cases of 2009

From the Editors of Larson's Workers' Compensation Law: Here’s our list for the Top 10 Cases of 2009…

1. U.S.: Supreme Court Allows Controversial 6th Circuit RICO/Workers' Compensation Decision to Stand - Cassens Transport. Co., Inc. v. Brown

On December 7, 2009, the United States Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by Cassens Transport Co. and declined to review a 2008 controversial decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals [Brown v. Cassens Transp. Co.] that had held the Michigan Worker’s Disability Compensation Act did not preempt plaintiffs' Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) [18 U.S.C.S. § 1964(c)] claims that an employer, a third-party claims administrator, and a cadre of doctors had engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity that denied plaintiffs’ workers’ compensation claims.

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 these citations (one at a time): 2009 U.S. LEXIS 8760 (U.S. Supreme Court), 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 21990 (Sixth Circuit). 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 (Sixth Circuit opinion). See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 100.03.

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2. MT: State Supreme Court OKs Termination of Benefits When Worker Eligible for Social Security Retirement Benefits - Satterlee v. Lumberman's Mut. Cas. Co.

In a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court of Montana concluded that Mont. Code Ann. § 39-71-710, which terminates an injured worker’s permanent total disability benefits once the worker is eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, was not unconstitutional and did not violate the injured workers' equal protection and substantive due process rights since the there was no fundamental right to receive permanent total disability benefits and the statute represented a reasonable attempt, on the part of the state legislature, to protect the financial viability of the workers’ compensation system.

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: 2009 Mont. LEXIS 524. 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, § 157.03.

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3. UT: State Supreme Court Strikes Down Statute That Allows Reduction in Comp Benefits for Certain Workers Who Receive Social Security Retirement Benefits - Merrill v. Utah Labor Comm’n

Earlier in the year, the Utah Supreme Court found unconstitutional Utah Code Ann. § 34A-2-413(5), which generally provides that after six years of receiving workers' compensation benefits, such benefits are reduced by half of the dollar amount of social security retirement benefits received during the same period.

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: 2009 Utah LEXIS 64. 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, § 157.03.

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4. CA: WCAB Reconsiders Two Important Cases Construing Use of AMA Guides – “AG&O”

In two separate, but related, Sept. 3, 2009 decisions (Almaraz/Guzman II and Ogilvie II), the WCAB reconsidered its earlier holdings and placed limits on methods used to challenge or avoid the conservative analysis of impairments in the AMA Guides or the DFEC adjustment of the rating schedule.

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FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case for Almaraz/Guzman here and Ogilvie here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 80.04.

5. OR: High Court Approves Award for Gastric Bypass Surgery - SAIF Corp. v. Sprague

The Supreme Court of Oregon agreed that an award of medical benefits to pay for gastric bypass surgey was compensable since weight loss would, in turn, allow for additional treatment of the worker's knee.

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: 2009 Ore. LEXIS 75. 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, § 94.03.

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6. U.S.: Class Action of Medicare Recipients Against Department of HHS May Proceed - Haro v. Sebelius

The United States District Court for the District of Arizona held that plaintiffs, a class of Medicare recipients, had standing and had stated a cause of action against the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  In relevant part, plaintiffs challenged the collection practices used to recover Medicare reimbursement claims when a beneficiary received liability insurance proceeds related to health care services paid for "conditionally" by the the Secretary.  The Plaintiffs asserted that the Secretary violated the due process rights of a Medicare beneficiary by demanding immediate reimbursement, within 60 days, in advance of resolution of any appeal or request for waiver of the reimbursement claim. Plaintiffs also contended that the threat of high interest charges, termination of Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits, and other collection actions to require payment, violated the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.

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FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 157.03.

7. IL: Bartender Struck By Stray Bullet Awarded Compensation Benefits - Restaurant Dev. Group v. Oh

An Illinois appellate court affirmed an award of workers' compensation benefits to a bartender who was struck in the back by a stray bullet fired from a gun during a gang-related "turf" battle that took place outside the employer's restaurant.

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: 2009 Ill. App. LEXIS 407. 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, § 7.01.

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8. GA: Worker Loses Aggravation Claim After Self-Prescribed Use of Heating Pad - City of Atlanta v. Roach

The Court of Appeals of Georgia held that injuries sustained by a worker who fell asleep while using a heating pad to alleviate soreness in a hip that he had fractured in an admitted industrial accident some two years earlier were not compensable under the state's "superadded" injury statute.

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: 2009 Ga. App. LEXIS 440. 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, § 10.01.

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9. IL: Worker's Smoking Impedes Recovery, But Does Not Trigger Disqualification of Benefits - Global Prods. v. Workers' Comp. Comm'n

An Illinois appellate court affirmed a Commision decision that a worker had not engaged in an injurious practice by failing to stop smoking where such failure meant he could not undergo necessary surgical treatment to alleviate his work-related 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: 2009 IL. App. LEXIS 352. 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, § 10.10.

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10. KY: Being Splattered in Face and Eye With Blood and Infectious Material Was Compensable Injury - Kentucky Employers Safety Assoc., v. Lexington Diagnostic Center

The Supreme Court of Kentucky held that being splattered in the face and eye with foreign blood or other potentially infectious material was a traumatic event and that the presence of blood in the eye constituted a harmful change in the human organism, i.e., the introduction of foreign blood or potentially infectious material into the worker's body.

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: 2009 Ky. LEXIS 80. 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, §§ 42.01, 51.02, 51.06, 94.03.

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