Most large employers are well aware of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent denial of a petition that it rehear the 6th Circuit Court's ruling allowing the plaintiffs in Brown v. Cassens Transport Company to proceed with a workers' compensation lawsuit based on alleged violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Practices Act (RICO).* The wider issue now is whether we are at a tipping point in the frequency of cases.
The original Brown v. Cassens decision in October, 2008 involving a Michigan workers' compensation claim stirred lively commentary in business, risk management and employee benefits publications. Attorney blogs and Web sites projected either foreboding or celebration depending on the author's convictions and practice orientation. LexisNexis and other legal resources added entries. Professional firms such as Sedgwick CMS updated their clients. A Hollywood actor even featured Brown v. Cassens in a demonstration clip (Link) on his promotional MySpace site. Clearly the word is out.
The Supreme Court's December, 2009 denial was widely reported in established risk management industry media. Despite the denial's critical importance in enabling Brown v. Cassens to proceed, however, it seems to have generated little fresh commentary in the blogosphere. More significant indicators that additional suits should be expected are:
As Brown v. Cassens progresses, employers may hear more about the allegations of RICO violations in the delivery of workers' compensation programs. Is there anything that they should be doing now? Sedgwick CMS recommends that they be ready, careful and calm:
For more information: Sedgwick CMS clients are encouraged to contact their program manager to discuss the implications of Brown v. Cassens for their program. Clients and other E-Bulletin recipients interested in additional information are also invited to contact Sedgwick CMS Workers' Compensation Practice Lead Darrell Brown at 562-981-1708, firstname.lastname@example.org.
* For background see Sedgwick CMS Client Bulletin 2008:07, "Brown v. Cassens Transport: Will Sixth Circuit RICO Ruling Move Workers' Compensation into the Federal Court System."
© Copyright 2010 Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. Reprinted with permission. This article originally appeared on the Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. website as Client E-Bulletin 2010:2.