CA - Regional Study: L.A. Basin Numbers Down, But Area Continues to Lead in Claim Frequency
| 75 min read
The more things change in California’s workers’ compensation system, the more they stay the same.
That appears to be the case, at least according to the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau’s sixth annual Geo Study, which once again found that indemnity claim frequency remains significantly higher in the Los Angeles basin than in the rest of the state, about one-third above average.
And as the Los Angeles region continues to outpace the state average despite chalking up fewer claims than in years past, Northern California regions such as the Bay Area and Sili...
NATL. - BLS Numbers Show No Overall Improvement in Workplace Injuries
| 12 min read
The rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses that required days off work increased in several major job categories in 2019, causing renewed concern among some worker and safety advocates.
“We're really not making progress on reducing injuries, that's the real takeaway,” M.K. Fletcher, a safety and health specialist for the AFL-CIO, said Tuesday.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics this week reported a number of annual tallies on injuries, nationwide. The data show that private employers reported 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries, about the same as in 2018. And t...
IL - Court Upholds PPD Award to Long-Time Coal Miner for Lung Conditions
| 17 min read
The Illinois Appellate Court upheld an award of permanent partial disability benefits to a long-time coal miner for his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchitis.
Case: American Coal Co. v. IWCC (Deere), No. 5-19-0522WC, filed 1019/2020, published 11/16/2020.
Facts: Robert Deere worked in the coal mining industry for over 40 years. He worked below ground for all but the first two years of his employment.
During the course of his employment, Deere allegedly was exposed to silica dust, roof bolting glue fumes, diesel fumes and a specialized type of glue used to put tiles on the wal...
NY - Worker Who Received Statutory Maximum Weeks of PPD Can Still Seek Reclassification
| 37 min read
A New York appellate court ruled that an injured worker who already received the statutory maximum number of weeks of benefits for a permanent partial disability could request a reclassification as being totally industrially disabled.
Case: Matter of Minichiello v. New York City Department of Homeless Services, No. 530616, 11/12/2020, published.
Facts and procedural history: Thomas Minichiello injured his back in 2009 while working for the New York City Department of Homeless Services. He later established his entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits.
The department stipulated to...
Press - Jonas Parr joins Karlin, Hiura & LaSota LLP, expanding the firm's presence in Fresno
Karlin, Hiura & LaSota LLP is excited to announce that Jonas Parr has joined the firm as an Associate. He will join Daniel Aguilar in Fresno, which is a reunion of sorts as they have worked together closely before at another firm. He describes Daniel as his mentor, and we're excited to bring them together again.
Jonas comes to the firm from Albert & Mackenzie...
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CA - Young: Another Workers' Comp Thanksgiving
On a recent online bloggers’ panel, panelists were asked for some closing thoughts on workers’ comp in 2020.
What came to mind for me? That the comp system has been a rock of stability for many people during the medical, economic and political turmoil of 2020. Thanksgiving is a good time to remember that.
America and California are not in a good place right now.
We live in a schizophrenic society. The stock market is hitting all-time highs while the virus spins out of control. Some sectors of the economy are booming and others are shut down. Kids (but not the governor’...
NY - Court Upholds Use of Standard Calculation of Benefits for Worker with Irregular Schedule
| 6 min read
A New York appellate court upheld the calculation of a worker’s benefits using the standard formula for a worker who worked five-days a week during substantially the whole of the year immediately preceding his injury, even though the worker had worked approximately half the time on a four-day a week schedule.
Case: In the Matter of the Claim of Foster v. FedEx Freight Inc., 11/12/2020, published.
Facts and procedural history: James Foster worked for FedEx Freight Inc. as a driver. He suffered injuries in April 2018 while attempting to sit on a chair.
Foster filed a workers’ comp...
LA - Casino Employee Failed to Prove Workplace Fall Resulted in Herniated Disk
| 19 min read
A Louisiana appellate court ruled that a worker who suffered a compensable knee injury from an on-the-job fall did not prove her entitlement to benefits for a disk herniation.
Case: Alvis v. Peninsula Gaming Partners LLC, No. 2020 CA 0161, 11/12/2020, published.
Facts: Alicia Alvis worked for Peninsula Gaming Partners LLC as a hostess at the Amelia Belle Casino in June 2012 when she tripped on an uneven area in the floor. Alvis told her supervisor she felt immediate tightness in her right knee.
Alvis went to Assumption Community Hospital and was diagnosed with a knee strain.
TX - Denial of Officer's COVID Claim Shows Need for Presumption, Advocates Say
| 109 min read
The death of a Texas prison guard from COVID-19 and the denial of her workers' compensation claim highlights the need for a virus presumption law, the woman's family said.
In local news reports, the family of 58-year-old Elizabeth Ann Jones of Texas City said the state has denied their claim that the disease was work-related. Jones was a correctional officer at the Carole Young Medical Facility in Dickinson and was watching over a COVID-sickened inmate when she fell ill in July.
She died within two weeks, her sister, Sandra Hightower, said.
State risk management officials, however, ...
FL - Family of Deceased Deli Worker Sues Publix Over Early No-Mask Policy
| 160 min read
The family of a grocery worker killed by COVID-19 has filed a negligence lawsuit alleging Publix supermarkets forbade the man from wearing a face covering during the early days of the pandemic.
“This is a case that needs to be prosecuted and that we need to push forward in our court system and shed light on what Publix was doing and why they were doing it,” the family’s attorney, Michael Levine, told The Tampa Bay Times.
Gerardo Gutierrez, 70, died in late April. He had been working as a deli employee at a Publix in Miami Beach. His family said he asked to wear a mask as ne...
Press - Kids' Chance of California Releases 2019-2020 Annual Report
Soquel, CA - November 11, 2020 - Kids’ Chance of California (KCOCA), a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide need-based educational scholarships to the children of California workers who have been fatally or seriously injured on the job, today published its 2019-2020 annual report–showcasing a record breaking year despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From COVID-19 and campus closures to...
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MS - Report: Doctor Acquitted on 7 of 8 Fraud Charges
| 41 min read
A Mississippi doctor was acquitted on seven of eight charges in what federal prosecutors alleged was an $18 million fraud scheme involving expensive pain creams, according to a report by ABC News.
Jurors could not reach a consensus on an eighth count alleging Dr. Gregory Auzenne made false statements relating to health care, according to the report. The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not immediately comment on whether it would retry the charge.
ABC also reports that the jury acquitted Auzenne’s secretary, Tiffany Clark, on all five counts against her.
Auzenne, an anesthesiologist in...
MN - Couple in Premium Fraud Scheme Ordered to Pay Carrier $309,000
| 172 min read
A husband and wife convicted of theft for misclassifying workers at their Minnesota drywall company to reduce their workers’ compensation liability were ordered to pay $309,000 in restitution to Federated Insurance.
LeRoy Mehr, 51, and Joyce Mehr, 50, were ordered to serve six months under house arrest and complete 30 days of community service, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced. They were also each fined $30,000.
LeRoy and Joyce both pleaded guilty Oct. 8 to one count of theft-by-swindle. Prosecutors said an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Commerce&rsqu...
SC - Attorney Suspended After Gun Incident
| 38 min read
A South Carolina personal injury and workers' compensation attorney has been suspended from practice after he was arrested in a gun-related incident.
Jason Taylor, of Charleston, was charged in October with pointing a gun at a police cadet in the driveway of Taylor's downtown Charleston home, according to a report by the Charleston Post and Courier.
Taylor, 42, who is also licensed to practice law in Florida, released video footage from his home security system. He said the video shows he never pointed the gun, but did challenge the cadet, who was dressed in black without identifying...
OH - BWC Audit Committee, Board Holding Special Meetings
| 106 min read
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation announced that the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors will convene a special meeting Wednesday, followed immediately by a special meeting of the full board.
The Audit Committee will meet at 2:15 p.m. for a budget update, according to the BWC. The board of directors will also discuss the budget update when it meets after the committee adjourns.
Both meetings will be available through WebEx by calling 415-655-0003 and using access code 133 009 4402.
NATL. - Optum Assessing Impact of First Take-Home COVID Test
| 325 min read
Optum Workers’ Comp and Auto No-Fault said it is evaluating the impact of a prescription at-home COVID-19 test kit on its standard formularies and viral infection supplemental formulary.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 17 authorized the use of the Lucira COVID-19 nasal swab test kit, Optum said. The single-use kit can be used at home for people 14 and older and for patients of any age in point-of-care settings including doctor offices, urgent care facilities and hospitals.
Test results are displayed in less than 30 minutes.
Lucira Health reportedly said it plans to make ...
CA - School Owners, Accomplices Charged in Alleged $20M SJDB Fraud Scheme
| 53 min read
More than a dozen people in Southern California have been charged with participating in a workers’ compensation fraud scheme that allegedly siphoned away more than $20 million in ill-gotten retraining vouchers, prosecutors said.
Two of the defendants operated “sham schools” in Riverside and Los Angeles and illegally recruited unqualified students in order to overbill for supplies and collect vouchers worth between $6,000 and $10,000 each, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said Monday.
The first of multiple defendants spread over three separate ...
NATL. - Longshore Special Fund Meeting Obligations, OIG Report Finds
| 27 min read
While some state-based second injury and other special compensation funds have struggled with red ink in recent years, the Longshore and Harbor Workers' special fund is doing just fine, an audit has found.
The audit report from the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General determined that revenue for the fund dropped by almost 6% last year, but so did its costs.
In fiscal year 2019 and 2018, “assessments were sufficient to cover the costs, and performance goals targeting the timeliness of initial claims processing and benefit delivery outcomes were achieved,” acco...
MD - Jury Decides Existence of Employment Relationship for Chicken Farm Worker
| 34 min read
Maryland’s highest court ruled that a jury properly decided the question of whether a chicken farm worker was an employee of the poultry producer who owned the birds he tended.
Case: Tyson Farms v. Uninsured Employer’s Fund, No. 5, 11/20/2020, published.
Facts: In 2009, Mauro Garcia began working at a chicken farm owned by Terry Ung. The chickens were owned by Tyson Farms Inc., the largest chicken producer in the country. Tyson had contracted with Ung to raise the chickens.
Ung fell ill toward the end of 2009 and Garcia began managing the farm. Ung died and his widow becam...
CA - Court Tosses Declaratory Judgment on Carrier's Coverage Obligations
| 88 min read
A California appellate court overturned a declaratory judgment as to an automobile insurance carrier’s obligation to provide coverage to a worker for his medical expenses from an accident.
Case: West American Insurance Co. v. Valles, No. B296771, 11/20/2020, unpublished.
Facts: Luis Valles suffered injuries in an accident while driving a vehicle owned by his employer.
His employer had an automobile insurance policy from West American Insurance Co. that provided uninsured motorist coverage of up to $1 million per accident. The driver of the other vehicle was uninsured.
Valles filed a ...
DE - Judge Overturns Denial of Permanent Impairment Benefits
| 68 min read
The Delaware Superior Court ruled that a worker should not have been denied permanent impairment benefits for his post-surgery issues just because the Industrial Accident Board found he had no ongoing conditions.
Case: Quaile v. TBC Corp., No. N20A-05-003 JRJ, 11/10/2020, published.
Facts and procedural history: Richard Quaile worked for TBC Corp. In August 2015, he fell from a ladder and suffered injuries.
In October 2015, Quaile filed a workers’ compensation claim seeking benefits for injuries to his foot, leg and low back.
In January 2016, TBC entered into an agreement with Quaile...
VA - Man Once Convicted of Comp Fraud Charged With Coughing on Protesters
| 73 min read
A Virginia man who once went to prison for workers' compensation fraud has been charged with deliberately coughing on supporters of President-elect Joe Biden outside President Trump's golf course.
Raymond Deskins, a former air traffic controller, was charged with assault and was released Sunday afternoon, according to a Virginia news outlet. The Loudon County Sheriff's Office reported that Deskins was arrested after an investigation.
A news video shows showed a maskless man wearing a Trump T-shirt coughing forcefully on what appeared to be a nearby Biden supporter outside of...
NY - Chiropractor Charged With Fraud to Stop Seeing Injured Workers
| 9 min read
A Long Island chiropractor charged with defrauding a federal workers' compensation program out of more than $700,000 has voluntarily agreed to stop seeing injured workers in New York.
The New York Workers' Compensation Board announced that Joseph E. Stephan, of Farmingdale, is now prohibited from treating injured workers and from conducting record reviews for variance requests.
Stephan, 50, was charged in September with billing the federal Office of Workers' Compensation Programs for services that were never rendered and when patients were not at his clinic. On 23 dates...