Thursday, May 27, 2010

Heat and bugs and workplace injury

Our recent spell of 90 degree plus weather may be a harbinger of things to come this Summer. As you head out to your jobs in the high heat and humidity, it is imperative you remember that if you become a victim of heat stroke or heat exhaustion while on the job, you may be eligible for benefits under the Conectiucut Workers Compensation Act. The same holds true for insect bites. Through the years I have represented a number of injured workers (and defended a few employers as well) that contracted Lyme Disease as a result of an insect or tick bite while at work.

If you fall ill due to a on the job condition, it is imperative you contact an experienced Connecticut Workers Compesation Attorey as soon as possible to protect your rights.

Safety Rules For Workers Involved in Top Kill

Talk about closing the barn door after the horses have left. OSHA has promulgated a web page setting forth their efforts in keeping the workers involved in oil spills safe from injury. Read all about it here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

OSHA Proposes Rulemaking To Prevent Injuries From Slips, Trips And Falls

From Comp News Network

Washington, DC (CompNewsNetwork) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced in a notice of proposed rulemaking published in today's Federal Register its plans to require improved worker protection from tripping, slipping and falling hazards on walking and working surfaces. A public hearing on the revised changes will be held after the public comment period for the NPRM."This proposal addresses workplace hazards that are a leading cause of work related injuries and deaths," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.The NPRM describes revisions to the Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment standards to help prevent an estimated annual 20 workplace fatalities and more than 3,500 injuries serious enough to cause people to miss work. For example, in July 2009, a worker at a chocolate processing plant was killed after falling from an unguarded work platform."This is a clear and grave example of the human cost incurred when fall protection safeguards are absent, ignored or inadequate," said Michaels. "The loss of a worker's life might have been prevented if the protective measures in these revised standards had been in place and in use."The current walking-working surfaces regulations allow employers to provide outdated and dangerous fall protection equipment such as lanyards and body belts that can result in workers suffering greater injury from falls. Construction and maritime workers already receive safer, more effective fall protection devices such as self-retracting lanyards and ladder safety and rope descent systems, which these proposed revisions would also require for general industry workers.The current walking-working surfaces standards also do not allow OSHA to fine employers who let workers climb certain ladders without fall protection. Under the revised standards, this restriction would be lifted in virtually all industries, allowing OSHA inspectors to fine employers who jeopardize their workers' safety and lives by climbing these ladders without proper fall protection.Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

SSD Claimant's Have an Absolute Right to Refuse a Video Hearing

A March 20, 2010 memorandum from the Chief Administrative Law Judge to all of his subordinate ALJ's reiterates that a social security claimant has an absolute right to refuse to appear at a videotelephonic hearing (VTC) and demand a hearing before an ALJ in person. VTC hearings have become increasingly popular in districs where cases are backlogged for hearing. I have had instances where my client and I have been sitting in a hearing room in Hartford while the ALJ is sitting in Kansas City or some other distant city.

Pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulations, the ALJ must be notified as soon as possible by the claimant that he or she is declining a VTC hearing. The hearing shall then be automatically continued for good cause having been found.

Nice to know that we can still insist on the personal touch.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I have to admit that this one is personal. I had a hand in defending the Cessario v Meriden matter at my former firm, and never in my wildest dreams would I have envisioned the result the trial commissioner reached, let alone have it affirmed by the CRB. Officer Cessario retired from the Meriden PD in 1978 with a disability pension on account of his hypertension (high blood pressure). Remember well that hypertension in police officers and fire fighters was (and to a large degree still is) presumed to have been caused by the job, and thus compensable under Connecticut Workers Comp.

Cut to 2001. 23 years later! (No longer) officer Cessario has a heart attack which he is, for reasons unfathomable to me, able to relate back to the late 70s high blood presure. The trial commissioner chose to ignore the opionion of Dr. Jim Dougherty, one of the finer cardiologists in the State, who adroitly points out numerous other occupational factors that brought abought the heart attck and tag the City with the costs for current benefits, increased PPD, and all manner of other expensive goodies that will be passed on to the Meriden tax payers.

The CRB does not address the Citys defense that the claim for the 2001 heart attack was utimely. If you read the opinion, they just skate over that.

I hope the City appeals. They should. This decision is a killer for Connecticut municipaligties.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Repetitive Trauma Theory Carries the Day in Stress induced H&H Claim

A tip of the hat to my former partner, Jim Quinn, who taught me a lot about the ins and outs of Connecticut workers comp law. Jim successfully argued to the CRB that the trial commissioner erred in dismissing the claimants heart and hypertension claim without considering Jims theory that the stress was in fact a repeitive trauma for the purposes of tolling the statute of limitations. This is complicated stuff, folks. I would be happy to speak personally to any of you who need guidance in this area or who would like to know more about theories of repetitive trauma.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


This is the classiest thing my team has done in a long time.

Run Susan Run

And she is off. Judge Michael Sheldon ruled today in a 100 page opinion that Susan Bysewicz, who has spent a great portion of her time of late as Connecticuts Secretary of State, does in fact meet the statutory requirement of 10 years active practice as a lawyer.

I have held this view for some time. While most lay people equate lawyers with litigation, there are a vast number of dues paying lawyers in this State that never set foot in a court room. They work on contracts at the Aetna, or on real estate deals at the Phoenix, or in some other arcane area of the law that would drive me right around the bend. Nonetheless, they are every bit as entitled to refer to themselves as a lawyer as I am. It is no different with Susan B.

With all due respect to my friend Elliot Gersten for his blistering deposition interrogation skills, Judge Sheldon got this one right.

In other news, I really need to start entering these posts on a computer that has a working apostrophe and quotation mark key. If my English professors at Ohio Wesleyan were to read these, they would take away my degree.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Timeliness of Claim: Emotional Distress in case of Minor Employee Sexually Assualted by Boss at Work

I had a hard time thinking of a title for this entry, and I am still not entirely happy with what I came up with, but its hard to capsulize, let alone imagine a scenario where a 13 year old (underage for employment in Connecticut) girl begins to work for a landscape contractor who then goes on to have sexual relations with her. The landscaper is ultimately arrested on statutory rape charges and the young girl begins to experience emotional distress and requires psychiatric treatment.
Some 6 years after this unhappy situation arose, it dawned on the childs parents---yes the same parents that let their 13 year old go take a job---that maybe this should be covered under workers compensation. They file a claim, citing the medical treatment exception to the 1 year notice of claim proivision under CGS 31-294C. The parents, through their lawyer, reason that inasmuch as the employer had to reimburse the girl her out of pocket expenses for counseling as a condition of his criminal case, he had in fact paid for medical care thus triggering the exception establishing compensability in a late notice case. The CRB did not buy it.

I expect a appeal. I also think that the odds are better than 50/50 that at some point, one of the Appellate courts in Conecticut will get swept up in the child sex abuse statute of limitations fever and deem the claim compensable.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of filing a timely claim for benefits. Time and time again, it seems, I have to tell a prospective client that they will be unlikely to prevail in their claim for a on the job ijury for the simple reason they did not follow the requisite steps and file a 30C Notice of Claim. If you get hurt on the job, it is essential that you speak with a experieced Connecticut workers compensation lawyer as soon as possible.