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ID - Independent Contractors Don't Qualify as Statutory Employers

09/21/2023 | 0

The Idaho Supreme Court ruled that independent contractors are not afforded immunity from tort liability under the workers’ compensation law as statutory employers, unlike contractors and subcontractors. Mitchell Smith worked for Amalgamated Sugar Co. In 2017, Amalgamated hired Excel Fabrication LLC to build a series of steel mezzanines and handrails at its facility. While the project was still ongoing, one of the handrails fabricated by Excel gave way while Smith was on a flight of stairs, causing him to fall and suffer injuries. Smith received workers' compensation b... Read More

MN - Contractor Loses Challenge to Jury Verdict in Subrogation Action

09/21/2023 | 0

The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a jury’s award of damages against a general contractor in a subrogation action by an insurance carrier to recover what it had paid in benefits to an injured worker. Case: Acuity v. Kraus-Anderson Construction Co., No. A23-0318, 09/18/2023, unpublished. Facts: Winona State University hired Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. as a general contractor for a building and renovation project on its campus. The university also hired Borton Construction Inc. to build a food court on the second floor of Wabasha Hall. Kraus-Anderson performed demolitio... Read More

WV - Supreme Court Upholds PPD Award Without Apportionment for Worker's Back Injury

09/21/2023 | 0

The West Virginia Supreme Court unanimously upheld a 5% permanent partial disability award to a coal company employee for his back injury. Case: Kennedy v. Mission Coal Co., No. 21-0930, 09/14/2023, published. Facts: Preston Kennedy worked for Mission Coal Co. He injured his back in January 2018 while lifting a bottle of oxygen. Kennedy filed a workers’ compensation claim, which was held compensable for low-back sprain/strain. Dr. Joseph Grady II examined Kennedy in October 2019. He noted that Kennedy’s medical records indicated he had prior back issues, even though Kennedy deni... Read More

WV - High Court Denies Worker's Request to Increase PPD Award

09/21/2023 | 0

The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a worker failed to prove his entitlement to a higher permanent partial disability award for his injuries from a fall. Case: Cook v. Arch Coal Inc., No. 21-0928, 09/14/2023, published. Facts: Wesley Cook worked for Arch Coal Inc. as an electrician, He suffered injuries in a fall at work in August 2018. Cook’s broken left leg was placed in a cast, and Dr. Stanley Tao performed surgery on the right knee. Tao separately performed surgery on Cook’s right shoulder as well. Dr. Joseph Grady saw Cook in June 2019. He opined that Cook was at ma... Read More

Industry Insights

TN - Addington: Some Important Reminders

By Judge Brian Addington
09/21/2023 | 0

As a child, and even today, I love to read historical reminders. I used to read them in newspapers or magazines growing up, but now they abound in articles on the web and on social media. On this day in history (Sept. 20): In 1946, the first Cannes Film Festival was held. In 1973, Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes.  In 1997, I was married in the chapel at Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia. To most people, that last point wouldn’t be important, but to me, my wife and family, it is a joyous time. I’m thankful th... Read More

FL - OSHA Fines Pipe Manufacturer for Preventable Death

09/21/2023 | 0

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined a pipe manufacturer $245,546 for violations uncovered during the investigation of a March 2023 workplace death. A 19-year-old employee of Foley Products Co. was using a hammer and chisel to remove hardened concrete from a mixer at a manufacturing facility in Cantonment, Florida. He was killed when the concrete mixer was restarted while he was still inside. OSHA said the fatality could have been prevented and cited the company for violations that include willfully exposing workers to crush and confined-space hazards. Additional... Read More

NATL. - Origami Risk Announces Executive Appointments

09/21/2023 | 0

Origami Risk on Wednesday announced the appointment of Chris Bennett as chief strategy officer of core solutions. At the same time, the insurance software as a service firm announced that Mike Kaplan is joining the company as president of the core solutions division. Bennett served as president of the core solutions division when it was created in 2019. His appointment to chief strategy officer will see the expansion of his role guiding the division’s growth and development, Origami said.  Kaplan brings 30 years of experience in operations and professional service, including ... Read More

CO - NCCI Proposes 3.4% Loss Cost Reduction

09/21/2023 | 0

The National Council on Compensation Insurance is recommending that Colorado regulators reduce advisory loss costs for the voluntary market by 3.4%, effective Jan. 1. “The proposed change in average voluntary loss costs consists of a 4.3% decrease due to experience and development, no change due to trend, a 0.4% increase due to benefits and a 0.5% increase due to change in loss-based expenses,” according to an actuarial analysis of the NCCI rate filing. The recommendation is based on premium and loss experience for policy years 2019-2021 and excludes claims resulting from COVID-1... Read More

MN - Labor Department Increases Fee Schedule Conversion Factors

09/21/2023 | 0

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry announced that medical fee schedule conversion factors are increasing Oct. 1. The department adopted rules that would increase by an average of about 0.5% the factors used to determine the maximum fee owed for health care services. Fees for medical services in Minnesota are determined based on Medicare’s relative value units and geographic price adjustments, which are multiplied by a conversion factor to calculate the dollar amount owed to the service provider. Effective Oct. 1, conversion factors will be: Medical and surgical ser... Read More

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09/18/2023 | 0

Policyholders Will Receive Their Dividend by the End of November HELENA, MT—Montana State Fund (MSF) announced a $35M dividend declaration to more than 24,000 policyholders across Montana. MSF is the state's not-for-profit and leading workers' compensation insurance company. It insures approximately 24,000 employers and their workers in approximately 400 industries from every Montana county. "This is welcome news for hardworking Montanans and job creators, and is another step in the right direction for our workers' compensation system," Governor Gre... Read More

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KY - State Workplace Health Officials Set Training Event

09/21/2023 | 0

The Kentucky Division of Occupational Safety and Health is holding a free, four-day training event in October. The event will include sessions exploring effective safety and health management programs and how they can reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries, and injury and illness recordkeeping requirements will be discussed. Other presentations will discuss fall protection standards for general industry and construction, welding safety, hazard communication, permit-required confined spaces and electrical safety. The workplace safety training conference is O... Read More

CA - State Fund Waits Too Long to Challenge Finding of Miscalculated Premiums

09/20/2023 | 0

A California appellate court in an unpublished decision ruled that State Compensation Insurance Fund could not belatedly challenge an administrative determination that it miscalculated an employer’s policy premiums. In 2018, the insurance commissioner found that State Compensation Insurance Fund had been miscalculating the workers’ compensation premiums of A-Brite Blind & Drapery Cleaning during the 2015 and 2016 policy periods. The commissioner further designated the A-Brite order as precedential. State Fund filed a motion for reconsideration, which was deemed denied when ... Read More

CA - Court Publishes Decision Barring Family From Seeking Tort Remedy for Worker's Death

09/20/2023 | 0

A California appellate court has ordered the publication of its opinion prohibiting a family from pursuing a tort action against an employer for a worker’s death. The court’s decision in Jimenez v. Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Food Markets Inc. was originally released late last month as an unpublished opinion. Only published opinions are binding precedent in California. Mrs. Gooch’s, the parent company of Whole Foods, asked that the court order publication of the decision, and the request was granted Tuesday. The case arose out of Timoteo Alejandro Martinez Il... Read More

WV - Supreme Court Denies Worker's Request to Increase Award for Knee Injury

09/20/2023 | 0

The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a worker who had undergone a bilateral knee replacement was not entitled to an increased award of benefits for a post-surgery injury. Case: Walker v. Globe Specialty Metals Inc., No. 22-0019, 09/14/2023, published. Facts: Robert Walker twisted his right knee after stepping into a hole in July 2017 while working for Globe Specialty Metals Inc. Walker had previously undergone bilateral knee replacements that were not work-related. A claims administrator for Globe’s insurance carrier accepted liability for a knee injury. In May 2018, an irriga... Read More

WV - High Court Upholds Expansion of Worker's Claim From Electric Shock Injury

09/20/2023 | 0

The West Virginia Supreme Court upheld a finding that an electrician suffered cervical and thoracic injuries from an electric shock. Case: Coronado Coal Corp. v. Muncy, No. 21-0979, 09/14/2023, published. Facts: Roger Muncy Jr. worked as an electrician for Coronado Coal Corp. He suffered an electric shock injury to his right hand at work in July 2020. He sought treatment that day from Logan Regional Medical Center, where he reported tingling in his right hand to the elbow, involuntary left cheek movement and pain in his right ring, middle and index fingers. He had a full range of ... Read More

NY - Drywall Contractor Sentenced to Jail for Premium Fraud

09/20/2023 | 0

A drywall contractor in New York was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to premium fraud, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced. Juan Escobar, 46, operated Infinity Drywall Corp., Infinity Quality Services Inc., JMC Drywall Corp. and JJM Builders Inc.  Prosecutors alleged that from November 2013 through October 2021, Escobar defrauded the New York State Insurance Fund by significantly underreporting his payroll during annual premium audits. He allegedly issued cashier’s checks to shell companies oper... Read More

MN - Report: Minneapolis Approves Another $1M for PTSD Claims

09/20/2023 | 0

A committee of the Minneapolis City Council authorized paying another $1 million to former police officers claiming to have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or other injuries, according to a report by the local Fox affiliate. Fox 9 reports that the Policy and Government Oversight Committee approved the payments after a hearing Monday that focused on work comp payments on ongoing efforts to reform the Minneapolis Police Department. A report presented during Monday’s meeting showed that total work comp payments have reached $28 million since the murder of George Floyd in ... Read More