Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

In Honeywell Asbestos Coverage Fight, Court Won’t Change Allocation Rule

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.law.com

Jaynee LaVecchia
Justice Jaynee LaVecchia

The New Jersey Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Honeywell International will not be required to contribute to damages from asbestos claims relating to brake and clutch pads from a company it purchased after insurance companies ceased writing policies that would cover asbestos-related illnesses.

The court was divided 5-1, affirmed a trial court’s ruling that Honeywell had no responsibility for pre-1987 initial exposure claims.

“Under our current law on allocation of liability among insurers, an insured is not forced to assume responsibility in that allocation during the insurance coverage block for years in which insurance coverage is not reasonably available for purchase,” said Justice Jaynee LaVecchia for the majority, citing the high court’s precedent-setting 1994 ruling in Owens-Illinois v. United Insurance.

The majority said it did not believe there was any reason to depart from that precedent.

Bendix, which was subsumed by Honeywell in later years, continued to use asbestos in its brake- and clutch-pad products until 2001, LaVecchia said.

Two insurers, Travelers and St. Paul, urged the court to recognize an equitable “exceptional circumstance” rule to depart from Owens-Illinois, and said the “coverage block” should run until the 2001 end of production of those products. Honeywell contended it had not sought coverage for a claim stemming from any post-1987 initial asbestos exposure.

“No…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

Insect-Related Risks to Outdoor Workers

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from mailchi.mp

A new fact sheet and investigation report from the California Department of Public Health’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program details the death of a date palm tree worker after he was attacked by multiple bees at an organic orchard in Southern California. Aggressive Africanized honey bees now account for the majority of feral honey bees in this region. Employers can post the fact sheet – also available in Spanish – at work sites.

Outdoor workers in agriculture, landscaping, construction, and other industries are at risk for insect-related illnesses and injuries, including fatal anaphylactic shock and mosquito-borne and tickborne diseases.

A new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) discusses the rise of illnesses from certain insect bites, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a topic page for bites and stings with preventive tips for workers and employers.

Email Occupational Health Watch with feedback about this update or change of address.

An Africanized honey bee
An Africanized honey bee

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

Herbicide Occupational Exposures – The Next Wave of Serious Compensation Claims

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

A liability trial commenced this week in San Francisco against Monsanto for the alleged carcinogenic propensities of its popular herbicide RoundUp. The claim was brought on behalf of a school groundskeeper who is suffering from a terminal cancer. He alleged that his exposure to the glyphosate-based herbicide caused his disease. The case is one of 5,000 that are now being cued-up for trial.

The case mirrors the trajectory of asbestos exposure claims, the longest run tort in US history. The initial two liability cases, brought against the manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of asbestos fiber in the 1970’s, trigged a mass onslaught of workers’ compensation cases on a national basis.

Glyphosate, N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine, is one of the most widely used herbicides. It is the active ingredient in products such as Roundup, Rodeo Aquatic Herbicide, and Eraser. Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that tis used on broadleaf weeds, grasses, and woody plants.

Occupational exposure cases usually turn on the opinions of medical experts and this case is no exception. Reuters reported, “ One of the experts is Beate Ritz, a public health professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who has criticized EPA studies of glysophates as flawed and concluded based on her review of available research that glyphosate-containing products "to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty" cause the lymphoma cancer….. The other is Alfred Neugut, a…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

The Latest Buzz: New Jersey Employer Must Reimburse Injured Employee for Cost of Medical Marijuana

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp News and comes from www.jdsupra.com

Executive Summary: Rejecting Freehold Township’s claim the entire case was barred by the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a workers’ compensation judge ruled the municipality must reimburse its employee for the cost of medical marijuana to treat his work-related injury. This contrasts with a recent decision from Maine’s highest court, which held that compliance with an administrative order compelling an employer to subsidize an employee’s use of medical marijuana constitutes aiding and abetting, which is a violation of the CSA.

Analysis: On June 28, 2018, Workers’ Compensation Judge Lionel Simon heard an application by Steven McNeary asking the court to compel Freehold to reimburse him for his medical marijuana purchases. Though McNeary met all criteria to obtain and use medical marijuana under New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA), Freehold refused, claiming it would be violating federal law if forced to pay for McNeary’s use of a controlled substance. Judge Simon rejected that argument, finding no conflict between the CSA (designed “to curtail the use and distribution of illicit narcotics for the purposes of the overall general public health”) and the CUMMA (which promotes a “safer, less addictive” treatment for pain).

Judge Simon considered and distinguished Bourgoin v. Twin Rivers Paper Co., LLC, 2018 ME 77 (2018). There, the appellate court affirmed a workers’…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

RBG – Equality in the Workplace

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

Last night I had the opportunity of viewing the newly released movie, RBG .an insightful and inspiring documentary about the awesome career of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

On January 17. 973, Justice Ginsburg, then a Rutgers University Law Professor, argued her first case before the US Supreme Court. She advocated for equality and that workplace benefits should not be the subject of sex discrimination. It began her career-long effort to end sex discrimination not only in the workplace but in all aspects of life.

Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that held that benefits given by the United States military to the family of service members cannot be given out differently because of sex.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated at oral argument:

"Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

Amicus views this case as kin to Reed v. Reed 404 U.S. The legislative judgment in both derives from the same stereotype.

The man is or should be the independent partner in a marital unit.

The woman with an occasional exception is dependent, sheltered from breadwinning experience.

Appellees stated in answer to interrogatories in this case that they remained totally uninformed on the application of this stereotype to serve as families that is they do not know whether the proportion of wage-earning wives of servicemen is small, large, or middle size.

What is known is that by employing the sex criterion, identically situated persons…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

The Supreme Court Just Made It A Lot Harder For You To Sue Your Employer

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.huffingtonpost.com

Employers who stiff their workers or discriminate against them just got a big lift from the Supreme Court, which issued a major ruling Monday making it easier for companies to avoid employee lawsuits.

The 5-4 ruling upheld employers’ use of class-action waivers in arbitration agreements. By signing these controversial provisions, workers give up their right to band together and sue in court for back pay or damages, and are instead forced to take their disputes to arbitrators individually.

Arbitration agreements have become a common way for employers to stifle lawsuits that could lead to large plaintiff classes and big payouts. Workers backed by employee groups and labor unions challenged their employers’ use of these agreements, claiming they ran afoul of the National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA, which guarantees workers the right to join forces in “mutual aid and protection.”

The employer-friendly conservative majority on the court decided against the workers. They ruled that collective bargaining law does not supersede federal law that established the arbitration process, therefore making the class-action waivers in employment contracts legitimate.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for the conservative majority, saying Congress did not write the NLRA to “displace” federal arbitration law.

“The policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

The U.S. Must Ban Asbestos – With No Exemptions

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.ewg.org

Fifty-five nations have banned all uses of asbestos. Shockingly, the U.S. isn’t one of them. The nation’s new toxics law gives the Environmental Protection Agency the power to completely ban the notorious killer, but the chemical industry is pushing for continued exemptions for some uses.

The EPA is expected to release a key document detailing how the agency plans to evaluate the risk of asbestos soon. But the current scope of the EPA’s so-called problem formulation document doesn’t even call for evaluation of the risk of a particularly dangerous type of asbestos that’s in the insulation of an estimated 30 million homes.

Such insulation is only one of the sources through which Americans can be exposed to asbestos. Investigations by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, or ADAO, and EWG have found that even some children’s toys and makeup contain asbestos-contaminated talc.

Even the smallest amount of asbestos fiber, if inhaled, can trigger deadly asbestos-related disease later in life. According to Dr. Jukka Takala, president of the International Commission of Occupational Health, asbestos-related diseases cause more than 39,000 deaths in the U.S each year – more than double the previous estimate of 15,000 deaths a year.

ADAO, EWG and other public health advocates have been working for a complete asbestos ban for more than a decade. We have testified at congressional hearings, met with the EPA, and submitted more than 100…

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Port of Seattle Development Will Employ 400+ Light Industrial Workers

The Port of Seattle, City of SeaTac, and IAC Properties broke ground June 7th on a 26-acre underdeveloped property to create a 460,000 square foot light industrial facility that will employ approximately 400 full time workers. Tenants may include food processors, manufacturers, and logistics providers that support the aviation and air cargo industries.

Located just north of the Des Moines Creek Business Park (DMCBP) in the City of Des Moines, this 25.62-acre undeveloped property is zoned Aviation Commercial (AVC) and will expand upon the success of the industrial development at the DMCBP.  It will also represent the first new industrial development on Port property in the City of SeaTac in many years.

The purpose of developing Des Moines Creek-North is to put the property back into productive use that supports both the City’s tax-base and is compatible with airport operations.

Photo Credit:  Port of Seattle

Photo Details:
Mayor, City of SeaTac, Michael Siefkes; Port of Seattle Director of Real Estate and Economic Development, Jeffrey Utterback; Port of Seattle Executive Director, Stephen P. Metruck; Port of Seattle Director of Aviation Facilities and Capital programs, Jeffrey Brown; Port of Seattle Managing Director, Economic Development Division, Dave McFadden; and Port of Seattle Aviation Director Lance Lyttle attended the groundbreaking for a new light industrial facility in Des Moines.

Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

Standing Desks at Work Deemed Not Beneficial

Full disclosure: Most of us at Causey Wright have convertible sit/stand workstations, and love them! – kc

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

Before employers buy standing workstations and/or even treadmills to prevent repetitive motion claims, they ought to take heed of a recent study that considers them a useless fad. The newest marketing craze is work at standing desks, some even equipped with treadmills and marked as ergonomically safer for an employee’s health.

A recently published study has reported the proposed benefits as merely “marketing hyperbole.” “The promotion of active workstations, such as standing desks and even treadmills in the office has been promoted by manufacturers recently with claims of better physical health, improved posture, even reduced mental stress, and a general boost to wellbeing. A new study suggests that many of the proposed benefits and claims are little more than marketing hyperbole.”

Disorders due to repeated motion trauma, an occupational illness, have increased substantially over the decades. “The New Jersey Supreme Court has recognized that the modern workplace is technologically sophisticated and that ergonomics present new situations which have generated an epidemic of repetitive stress injuries. Office workers who regularly use computers often suffer from many debilitating hand and wrist disorders resulting in tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Matter of Musick, 143 N.J. 206, 670 A.2d 11 (1996).” Gelman, Jon L, Workers Compensation Law, 38 NJPRAC 9.2 (Thomson-Reuters 2018).

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and…

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Dollar Tree Stores Cited Again, Fined Maximum for Putting Workers at Risk

For the second time in less than two years, Dollar Tree Stores Inc., faces stiff fines for workplace safety violations at two of its stores. The company faces $306,000 in state penalties. 

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) cited and fined the Virginia-based employer after inspections at the company’s Bonney Lake and Kelso stores found “willful” violations, the most severe. The L&I inspector found the stores were knowingly exposing employees to workplace safety hazards. Dollar Tree stores in Aberdeen and Chehalis were cited for the same violations in 2016. 

“We are seeing the same safety violations at Dollar Tree stores over and over again in Washington,” said L&I Division of Occupational Safety and Health Assistant Director Anne Soiza. “It’s concerning because this is a national problem as well. Employees, and sometimes customers, are being put at risk even though the fixes to these safety problems are simple.” 

L&I initiated the recent inspections after getting complaints about safety hazards at the two stores. A customer at the Bonney Lake store contacted L&I to express concerns for the store employees’ safety because boxes crowded and blocked pathways and emergency exit routes. Many boxes were also stacked precariously and so high that they could easily have fallen on employees or even customers in some instances. All of the willful violations are serious, but the blocked pathways and emergency exits are the most concerning. 

Bonney Lake store cited for dangerous stacks of boxes and obstructed exits

At the Bonney Lake store, the company was cited for three willful safety violations. The first was for not ensuring that exit routes were free of obstructions. At the time of the inspection, merchandise blocked several aisles and passageways. Employees did not have clear paths from the breakroom and other areas to emergency exits and could be trapped in a fire or other emergency. Because of the employer’s history, this violation carries the maximum fine of $70,000.

The second willful violation cited was for storing merchandise in a way that created a safety hazard. The stockroom was packed with boxes of merchandise in stacks and piles. Heavy boxes were on top of light ones, some had fallen from the stacks, and there were uneven and leaning stacks more than nine feet high. This violation also carries the maximum penalty of $70,000.  

Improperly stored merchandise can fall on employees causing serious injuries or even death if the boxes cause an employee to fall and strike their head on the floor. Lifting heavy boxes onto nine-foot stacks is also likely to cause strains and sprains or serious back injuries.  

A third willful violation with a penalty of $26,000 was cited for not installing protective guarding or covers over light fixtures that could be struck and broken by the stacked merchandise, which could cause eye injuries or cuts from falling glass.  

Kelso Dollar Tree cited for similar safety violations

At the Kelso store, the company was cited for two willful violations with maximum penalties of $70,000 each. The violations were similar to those cited at the Bonney Lake store and previously at the Aberdeen and Chehalis stores. Merchandise was crowded into a storeroom with uneven stacks as high as eight feet, and exit routes were blocked or obstructed with boxes of merchandise.

Dollar Tree has appealed the citation.

Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

For a copy of the citations, please contact Public Affairs at 360-902-5413

Photo credit: Robert S., Yelp.com – “Typical aisle, with hazardous boxes blocking shelved merchandise.”