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Case Summaries

Workers' Comp

[04/16] Hopkins v. Kedzierski
In an suit brought by an employee who sustained injuries and received workers compensation after falling from the balcony of her employer, the trial court's dismissal of her claims on timeliness grounds is reversed where although the court did not err in denying plaintiff's request for a jury trial and in determining that the doctrine of equitable estoppel does not apply, the reasons that the court provided as the basis for its determination that the equitable tolling doctrine is inapplicable are legally insufficient, and the matter must be remanded to the trial court for factual findings as to whether plaintiff demonstrated the elements of equitable tolling.

[04/15] Hallock v. Koubek
In a suit arising out of a car accident, denial of defendant's motion for summary judgment is reversed where, in light of certified questions answered by the New York Court of Appeals, a party in plaintiffs' position may not pursue a third-party contribution claim under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 388 against the owner of a vehicle where the vehicle driver's negligence was a cause of the plaintiff's injuries, but the driver is insulated from lawsuit by the exclusive remedy provisions of New York's Workers' Compensation Law section 29(6).

[04/14] Global Hawk Ins. Co. v. Le
In an suit brought by a truck driver who sustained injuries in an accident during a cross-country trip, summary judgment in favor of employer's insurance carrier are reversed where the trial court erroneously ignored pertinent facts in the case and held that the definition of employee in certain federal regulations, which are not mentioned in the insurance policy, controlled.

[04/01] Peabody Coal Company v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
A petition for review of a decision of the Benefits Review Board ordering petitioner to pay a coal miner's surviving spouse benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act of 1972 is denied, where: 1) the administrative law judge (ALJ) did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act by considering the regulatory preamble to the Black Lung Benefits Act in his decision awarding benefits; 2) a preamble may be used to give an ALJ understanding of a scientific or medical issue, and the ALJ properly considered the regulatory preamble to evaluate conflicting expert medical opinions; and 3) the ALJ's award of benefits was supported by substantial evidence.

[03/27] Isabella v. Koubek
In a case arising from an automobile accident, the answer to the question from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is: A defendant may not pursue a third-party contribution claim under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 388 against the owner of a vehicle, where the vehicle driver's negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff's injuries, but the driver is protected from suit by the exclusive remedy provisions of New York Workers' Compensation Law section 29 (6).

[03/11] Lincoln v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
The petition for attorney's fees for petitioner's pursuit of a claim for disability benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) against his employer is denied, where: 1) 33 U.S.C. section 928(a)'s plain language requires fee-shifting only when an employer has paid no compensation within 30 days of receiving the official claim, and the employer here voluntarily paid petitioner one week's compensation within 30 days of receiving his claim; and 2) the employer's payment of one week's benefits at the maximum compensation rate, being directly tied as it was to petitioner's alleged injury, qualifies as "compensation" within the meaning of section 928(a).

[03/11] Barton v. House of Raeford Farms, Incorporated
In an action brought by former and current employees for the payment of unpaid wages and alleging retaliation by defendant for instituting workers' compensation proceedings, judgment in favor of 16 plaintiff-employees on the South Carolina Wages Act claims, and judgment in favor of 8 plaintiff-employees on the retaliation claims are: 1) reversed in part on the S.C. Wages Act claims, where those claims were preempted by section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act and should have been dismissed; 2) reversed in part on the retaliation claims as to 6 employees because they failed to present evidence satisfying the governing legal standards for recovery under state law; and 3) affirmed in part on the retaliation claims as to the remaining two employees.

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