WA Court of Appeals Cites Compensable Consequences Doctrine in Maphet Decision

From the Maphet decision:

“…the compensable consequences doctrine compels coverage of the ninth surgery; and the County conceded that the ninth surgery was proper and necessary. Accordingly, we reverse.”

Clark County, Et Al. v. Jennifer Maphet, (Wa. Ct. App. Div. II, 2019)

Maphet – the Story

The Court of Appeals opinion sets out the chronology of events in the Maphet case, in the most simple and dry manner, as follows:

Jennifer Maphet injured her right knee while at work. Her employer, Clark County, is a self-insured employer. Maphet underwent nine surgeries on her knee. The County contested its responsibility for the ninth surgery to the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). L&I issued an order for the County to authorize and pay for the surgery. The County appealed. The Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA) affirmed L&I’s order. The County appealed to the trial court, and the jury returned a verdict that the industrial injury did not cause the need for the ninth surgery and that the ninth surgery was not proper and necessary.

Undoubtedly, for Ms. Maphet this paragraph represents many years of ordeal, from injury through surgeries, peppered with administrative headaches and legal hassles. The end result, however, is that her set of circumstances has resulted in clarification of the laws, benefiting all injured workers in Washington. From this point forward, claimant attorneys will refer to the “Maphet decision” while representing injured workers.

Key Take-Aways from the Maphet Decision

I encourage you to read the full decision, here. This is a window into the world of legal wrangling in workers’ compensation matters, at the highest level. The Maphet decision also outlines, in detail, one story of one injured worker, with parallels and patterns that will be familiar to any injured worker.

The Maphet case stands for two important rules:

1)      If a self-insured employer (SIE) covers medical treatment, it is legally responsible for the underlying condition; and

2)      The Board’s “compensable consequences doctrine” is a correct statement of the law – if a claim-covered surgery results in some untoward consequence, it is the SIE’s responsibility.

We often litigate cases over the responsibility of the Department of Labor and Industries or self-insured employer for a medical condition or treatment, particularly when surgeries are involved. Like Ms. Maphet’s case, we have seen cases where treatment is authorized, covered by a claim, only later to be retroactively denied as not the responsibility of the Department or SIE.

With the publishing of the Maphet decision, a clear message has been sent that the Department or SIE’s are responsible for both the underlying condition and any untoward consequences arising from a surgery (whether it rises to the level of medical malpractice, or not) once a medical condition has been covered by a claim.

The Appeal Process, Simply Stated

Most workers’ compensation claims are handled administratively, many concluding without conflict or the need for legal representation. Some are more complicated, hard fought, and require litigation. Of these, the majority are resolved through proceedings before the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.

Aggrieved parties have the right to appeal from the Board’s decisions to superior court where a judge or, if requested, a jury issue an order on the issues at hand. However, in rare cases where matters of law remain at issue, appeals can be argued to the Court of Appeals and, from there, even more rarely, to the state Supreme Court. Ms. Maphet’s case was recently presented to the Court of Appeals, Division II, and the court opinion was just published.

More Information About Appeals

We have information on our website about appeals to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals or higher courts on workers’ compensation issues, here. If you have questions and wish to discuss your case in more detail, please contact our firm for assistance. You may call our office at (206) 292-8627 or email to: reachus @ causeywright.com (remove spaces when entering the email address – they have been added to avoid spam by bots).

Workshop Held On Noise Reduction Ideas for Puget Sound

The workshop gathered diverse maritime interests to protect endangered orcas through noise reduction.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance announced that it, with the Port of Seattle, Port of Tacoma, Washington State Ferries, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Puget Sound Partnership, co-convened a workshop of a broad range of experts and interests to identify ways to reduce underwater noise in effort to support recovery of the endangered population of Southern Resident killer whales. Underwater noise can be harmful to Southern Resident orcas because it impedes their ability to use sonar to hunt prey and communicate.  

The workshop was held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center Oct. 3, 2019 and was attended by state, federal, tribal and Canadian government representatives, researchers, natural resource agencies, whale conservation groups and representatives of the maritime industry. The goal of the workshop was to explore the possibility of establishing a program to reduce the exposure of our endangered orca to ship noise such as ECHO established by the Port of Vancouver, British Columbia to implement noise reduction efforts. Read more about the workshop on the NWSA site.

Efforts Coincide with Presence of Newer, Larger Vessels in Puget Sound

In August, 2016, we wrote about the widening of the Panama Canal and, as a result, the presence of much larger vessels calling on our Puget Sound ports (read the post, here). The ports have improved infrastructure to support the mega-ships in our harbors (as noted in another post, here).

The newer vessels are not only much larger, they are also much more efficient. Improvements in ship’s engine designs reduce carbon emissions. Hull designs to reduce drag through the water improve fuel efficiency. As a person often on a sailboat in our waters, I can also attest to the fact that they produce much smaller wakes (thank you!).

If other improvements can be incorporated to also reduce sound intrusion in our waters, this will serve to benefit everyone in our region, both people and wildlife.

“Sonic Sea” – Movie Explains Effects of Noise on Our Seas

YOU WANT TO WATCH THIS MOVIE. Sonic Sea is a documentary about the devastating impact of industrial and military ocean noise on whales and other marine life. The film explores the critical role of sound in the sea, and the sudden, dramatic changes human activity is inflicting on the ocean’s delicate acoustic habitat — changes that threaten the ability of whales and other marine animals to prosper, to function, and ultimately, to survive. The film offers solutions (and, by extension, hope) for a quieter ocean, and underscores that the ocean’s destiny is inextricably bound with our own.

You will become a believer in the efforts to achieve noise reduction after seeing this film. I sat down to watch a few minutes of it while visiting a whale museum and ended up sitting there, riveted, for the whole hour. Watch the trailer for the full goosebump effect.

Sonic Sea – Trailer from Imaginary Forces on Vimeo.

Clean Truck Program Wins Award

The Northwest Seaport Alliance has announced that it is proud to have received the American Association of Port Authorities’ 2019 Environmental Improvement Award for it’s Clean Truck Program. You can read the full release, excerpted below, here.

The NWSA Clean Truck Program was one of the initiatives developed through the groundbreaking Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy. In 2008, the ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver, British Columbia, collectively set a goal to implement clean truck standards by January 2018.

Targeted to reduce air pollution in the Puget Sound region, the innovative program earned the Award of Distinction in the comprehensive environmental management category for successfully implementing a voluntary clean trucks initiative.

As of Jan. 1, 2019, the Clean Truck Program requires all trucks serving the NWSA international container terminals to have a 2007 or newer engine or certified equivalent emissions control system. With newer engines emitting 90% less diesel particulate matter (DPM), the program has reduced the pollutant load on our neighboring communities by 33.4 tons of DPM per year. The reduction of diesel emissions helps decrease the risk of asthma, cancer and heart disease.

Acknowledging only 53% of trucks were compliant for the original Jan. 1, 2018 deadline, the NWSA Managing Members voted to extend the deadline through December 2018 to give drivers more time to prepare. Throughout the year, the NWSA partnered with lawmakers and various agencies like the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington State Department of Ecology, African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest, City of Seattle, and Washington Trucking Association to offer financial and training resources.

We wrote about this program early in the process in our prior post, “TRUCK REPLACEMENT PROGRAM TO IMPROVE AIR QUALITY SCRAPS 200TH TRUCK.” We congratulate Northwest Seaport Alliance for winning this award and appreciate the effort to improve air quality in Seattle and Tacoma.

Accessible Hikes – Get Back to Nature!

Ten accessible Hikes in British Columbia + Ten in Washington = Lots of Wilderness to Explore

After finding an article with ten accessible hikes in British Columbia, which are spread across the province from Victoria, B.C. north to Saint George and west to Haida Gwaii and Tofino, I was inspired to find out more.

British Columbia, BC Options

Destination B.C. lists 10 hiking trails to explore when accessibility is a consideration. Most are paved and smooth, while a few provide a variety of surfaces. One even offers all-terrain wheelchairs on loan for those wanting to go off-trail. What?! That’s AWESOME!

You can see the full list for yourself here, but these are a couple of my favorites:


Naikoon Provincial Park, Photo credit: BC Parks

Formerly a freight railway line during WWI, the Galloping Goose is now part of the Trans Canada Trail, also known as The Great Trail, spanning 55 km (34 mi) from Victoria to Sooke on southern Vancouver Island. Access points are available throughout the trail, allowing for a variety of hikes ranging from a few hours to several days, taking you from Victoria’s urban streets to Douglas fir forests to Sooke’s famous potholes.

On the northern tip of Haida Gwaii you’ll find extended wooden boardwalks. There are also high-contrast tactile interpretive panels with braille and audio for the visually impaired. The main boardwalk forks at a junction: the top portion is a steep hike to the top of Tow Hill, while the 1-km (0.6-mi) lower portion remains barrier-free leading to the Hiellen River Estuary and ocean views. You can see Alaska from the lookout on a clear day. 

You can experience  a virtual hike of the trail  on the Access BC website developed by Spinal Cord Injury BC.


North on Charters Creek Trestle
Photo Credit: Gary, http://www.gallopinggoosetrail.com

Formerly a freight railway line during WWI, the Galloping Goose is now part of the Trans Canada Trail, also known as The Great Trail, spanning 55 km (34 mi) from Victoria to Sooke on southern Vancouver Island. Access points are available throughout the trail, allowing for a variety of hikes ranging from a few hours to several days, taking you from Victoria’s urban streets to Douglas fir forests to Sooke’s famous potholes.

Washington State Options

The Washington Trails Association (WTA) lists ten accessible hikes all across Washington State. Whether you or a member of your hiking party is in a wheelchair, pushing a stroller, encouraging young children to hike, recovering from an injury or just beginning a fitness routine for the first time, Washington offers many hiking opportunities. See the full list, here.

From mountains to seashore, eastern or western Washington, these accessible hikes will thrill the senses. A couple of my favorites are:


Seaquest State Park has accessible hiking and yurt camping!
Photo credit: WA State Parks

Distance: 1.0 mile
Elevation Gain: 100 feet 
Trail Type: Variable, ADA-Accessible trail
Season: Spring – Fall


Mount St. Helens may be on full display at Silver Lake (an accessible telescope is often available for close-up volcano viewing), but it’s best to keep your eyes on the lakes and forests along the trail. A haven for local wildlife, Silver Lake might just treat you to a glimpse of deer, elk, owls or even bear!

Accessible hikes at Columbia Plateau.
Photo credit: WA State Parks

Location: Spokane area
Distance: 48 miles of ADA-accessible trails 
Elevation Gain: 10 feet 
Trail Type: ADA-Accessible paved trail      
Season: Spring – Fall

Pick your own adventure on this 143-mile stretch of reclaimed railroad that extends from Spokane to Pasco. Though most accessible at the Cheney Trailhead, this railroad trail includes ADA-Accessible hikes through the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, and family-friendly routes at the Snake River Junction Trailhead.

>> Visit Columbia Plateau Trail

More for your accessible lifestyle

Photo Credit: The Alleles Design Studio, Ltd, Victoria, BC, Canada

Need to update equipment for this level of adventure? Check out our past post about the best designs, both practical and stylish, for accessible living, here.

Hybrid Electric Ferries for Washington State

Elliott Bay Design Group Selected to Design Hybrid Electric Ferries for Washington State

Press Release – Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG) was recently selected by Vigor Fab as the engineering firm that will provide functional design for the new hybrid electric ferries (Olympic Class) for Washington State Ferries (WSF).  EBDG is responsible for redesigning the vessels to accommodate the major change in propulsion type without disrupting structural components.  The ferries will operate on all-battery power during crossings or can revert to a hybrid, diesel-electric propulsion if required.  Battery recharging will typically occur dockside at the terminals during offloading/loading procedures.

Earlier this year, Washington State’s Legislature authorized a contract extension for Vigor to build up to five hybrid electric versions of their 144-vehicle Olympic Class.  The new-build authorization is a direct result of the 2040 Long Range Plan that identified the initial aspects of vessel and terminal electrification.  EBDG was a participant of the plan and is now leading the effort for an additional, supporting addendum – the WSF System Electrification Plan.  The System Electrification Plan will identify a detailed plan for deploying hybrid electric vessels throughout the ferry system.

EBDG brings a unique advantage to the project team with experience gained from design work on the last twenty vessels built for WSF.  Further, EBDG has been a major contributor to WSF’s electrification efforts thus far by supporting hybrid feasibility studies and life-cycle cost analyses for both the Jumbo Mark II and Olympic Class ferries.  “We have supported WSF with naval architecture and engineering support since 1992,” states Brian King, President of Elliott Bay Design Group.  “Our involvement in the hybridization of the ferries is a natural progression that we are immensely proud to be a part of,” King reflects.

Washington State Ferries operates the largest ferry system in the United States, with 23 vessels, 20 terminals and 23 million passengers.  The new ferry will utilize hybrid-electric propulsion, tapping clean Northwest hydropower.  The hybrid-electric design phase is underway with construction expected to begin in 2020 and delivery of the first vessel in late 2022.  The vessel is expected to be the largest new-build battery-powered ferry in North America.

See more information about this project: Washington State Ferries – Hybrid-Electric Propulsion Conversion Project

Elliott Bay Design Group LLC is an employee-owned company with offices in Seattle, New Orleans, Ketchikan and New York that provides naval architecture, marine engineering and production support services to owners, operators and shipyards across the country.  Our team of professionals assist operators with determining the feasibility of hybrid and electric propulsion systems.  We engineer custom solutions based on each operator’s unique profile to maximize their return on investment.

For more information, please visit www.ebdg.com.

Changes to Vocational Rules Adopted

Changes to vocational rules have been adopted, implementing enhanced AWA (ability to work assessment) services and providing enforcement mechanisms for actions against VRCs and vocational firms.

We wrote about the changes under consideration when they were proposed over the summer. See Vocational Recovery Services. Our firm has represented claimants in many cases where vocational services or outcomes have been at issue. Often, the issues can best be addressed early in the claim, while the worker is participating in vocational services. In other cases, litigation is pursued.

You may read the full notice about the changes to vocational services rules issued by DLI, excerpted below, here.

The WA Department of Labor and Industries (DLI) adopted the proposed changes to WAC 296-19A on Oct. 22, 2019. The new rules were first proposed in August, and go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The adopted rules outline vocational recovery services to align with RCW 51.32.095 which places a high priority on returning a worker to employment.

The rule changes also:

  • Establish certain expectations for vocational firms.
  • Clarify when VRCs and vocational firms may be subject to corrective actions or sanctions.
  • Spell out what those sanctions include.

You can review the adopted rule language on DLI’s website for rule development.

DLI is developing training for vocational providers that will assist them in meeting these expectations, and applying worker centric vocational recovery best practices.

Washington Health Benefit Exchange Locations for Open Enrollment

Enrollment is offered year-round to individuals and families through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid).  Open enrollment for all other applicants runs from November 1st through December 15th.

Washington Health Benefit Exchange announced the locations for eleven full-service enrollment centers offering in-person assistance to customers signing up for health and dental coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder during the upcoming open enrollment period starting November 1.

Customers may obtain coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder, the WAPlanfinder mobile app, over the phone, or in person. The deadline for obtaining coverage is December 15th, with coverage beginning January 1st. Medicaid-eligible individuals can apply for and receive coverage through Washington Apple Health at any time throughout the year.

The Exchange offers a Customer Support Center based in Spokane Valley that employs more than 300 representatives during open enrollment period –including bi-lingual and multi-lingual services and provides a free telephonic interpreter service.

Along with ten Open Enrollment Center sites returning from last year, one new in-person assistance location will be available in Everett. Last year, enrollment centers served over 5,000 customers from November 1 through December 15.

Note: Workers’ compensation benefits are NOT taxable income, and should NOT be included in the household income figure when applying for health benefits through the exchange. This distinction is very important for all injured workers needing health insurance for themselves and their families.

Enrollment Centers will be located in:

  • Bellingham
  • Everett
  • Kennewick
  • Federal Way
  • Olympia
  • Seattle
  • Spokane
  • Tacoma
  • Vancouver
  • Wenatchee
  • Yakima

For complete contact information for each location, read the full announcement, here.

With the start of open enrollment quickly approaching, all Washington residents who need in-person assistance with enrollment are encouraged to now schedule an appointment to meet with a navigator or broker in their area. Connecting with in-person help is easiest through the WAPlanfinder mobile app that uses a customer’s current location to provide contact information for and detailed directions to the nearest navigators and brokers. Additional over-the-phone assistance is available by calling the Washington Healthplanfinder Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633.

Apprenticeship News: “Train the Trainer” Opportunity

South Seattle College’s Georgetown Campus is known as the area’s premier workforce education and training center.
The Georgetown Campus Apprenticeship & Education Center trains more than 3,000 apprentices and journey-level workers annually in 50 different trades.

The South Seattle College Apprenticeship and Education Center is offering an opportunity to gain certification as a trainer. The ‘Train the Trainer’ program involves a full day of training.  You can read the full notice about this opportunity, excerpted below, here.

Please note that the date of the upcoming training program was not available at the time of writing. Contact details are included, below, should you wish more information.

Mentorship Matters – Communication

The Train the Trainer program uses the Mentorship Matters curriculum, which has two parts: Communication, and Mentoring. Both are designed to provide tools to aid communication and mentoring skills between apprentices and mentors.

The communication workshop covers six steps that will help apprentices become successful in their apprenticeship:

  • Effective Communication: One way communication & Two-way communication
  • Active Listening: Body language, Three steps to listening, Verbal and nonverbal cues
  • Asking Questions: Closed questions, Open questions, Learning how to open closed questions
  • Receiving Feedback: How to deal with a situation when you are not receiving feedback, learn how to receive feedback and the key points to focus on
  • Proactive Learning: Seeing it, hearing it, trying it, figure out our strengths in learning and use them in our advantage, continuous learning
  • Setting Goals: Introduce best practice for setting goals, responsibility vs attitude, self-assessment (Responsibilities & Attitudes)

Mentorship Matters – Mentoring

The Mentoring workshop covers six steps that will aid an experienced journeyperson/supervisor to be more successful in mentoring their apprentices: 

  • Identify the Skill: Identify skill and set proper expectations such as: Safety, Production, Quality
  • Link the Skill: Link the skill to the bigger picture including: Other Trades, Customers, Who, what, where, when, why
  • Demonstrate the Skill: Best methods to demonstrate the skill to an apprentice. Introduce seeing it, hearing it, trying it as we had introduced to apprentices (Ask mentors to keep these in mind while mentoring their apprentices)
  • Provide Practice: Different methods to create a safe, positive learning environment on the site
  • Give Feedback: Introducing supportive feedback, corrective feedback, and feedback sandwich, Best practices in giving feedback
  • Assess Progress: How to assess your apprentice, How to assess yourself

The cost to become certified is $525.00. The class is capped at 16 participants. More details about the curriculum:

For questions, contact JudyReed, AAI Grant Director
South Seattle College – Georgetown Campus
6737 Corson Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98108
Office: 206.934.5235
Cell: 206.353.1416

Port of Seattle Seeks Public Comment

Port of Seattle Schedules Review of Proposed 2020 Budget and Five-Year Plan, Continues Major Investments for the Region’s Future

The Port of Seattle will host two community open houses to review its 2020 budget and five-year capital development plans for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and the Maritime and Economic Development divisions. The plans outline the Port’s blueprint to further invest in infrastructure, maximizing efficiency and service to benefit the economic and environmental vitality of our region. You may read the full press release here, excerpted below.

Port of Seattle Open Houses

Community members are invited to learn about the Port’s preliminary 2020 budget and five-year capital development and investment plans at two upcoming open houses. Port staff will share information about investments at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and in the Maritime and Economic Development divisions. Staff will also share how the Port’s preliminary budget and five-year capital development plans respond to regional need by improving customer service, expanding economic activity across our region, and supporting healthy habitats and communities.

WHEN:             October 22, 2019, 5:30 to 7:30
WHERE:           Pier 69 Atrium (sign in at the front desk)

WHEN:             October 28, 2019, 5:30 to 7:30
WHERE:           Sea-Tac Airport Conference Center

Capital development projects make up the largest share of the Port’s spending. The preliminary 2020 budget includes capital spending of $644 million, with $570 million going to Sea-Tac International Airport, and $74 million going to Maritime and other divisions. In addition to the Port’s capital spending, the Port will contribute 50 percent to capital investments in the Northwest Seaport Alliance for marine cargo projects, including the current construction transforming Terminal 5 into one of the nation’s premier international container terminals.

The Port’s preliminary 2020 operating budget forecasts revenues of $812 million and expenses of $472 million. The 2020 operating budget allows the Port to respond to needs of business and community stakeholders with stronger organizational capability, advanced sustainability, and an improved customer experience at Port facilities.

The Port of Seattle is in the second year of a five-year investment plan designed to make our region a competitive maritime hub. The investments focus on asset preservation and prioritize economic development where our natural advantages align to economic growth opportunities.

Silica Exposure Causes Silicosis

Stone fabrication workers, especially those working with engineered stone, are at risk for silicosis. Given the serious health hazard and significant number of workers at risk, additional efforts are needed to reduce exposures and improve disease surveillance. – CDC

Silica exposure causes silicosis, as reported in recent CDC research on the topic. Our firm has encountered silicosis cases. The effects of this exposure can be dramatic, even with minimal exposure.

Obtaining coverage under a workers’ compensation claim provides medical treatment, monetary compensation for time lost from work, vocational retraining services (if needed), the potential for an award for permanent impairment or, in the case of total disability, a lifetime pension with an option for survivorship benefits. In fatality cases, benefits for a surviving spouse and/or children is paid.

The CDC’s research focused on eighteen cases in four states, including one case from Washington. The CDC news release can be read in full here, and is excerpted, below:

Severe Silicosis in Engineered Stone Fabrication Workers

Respirable crystalline silica exposure causes silicosis, a disabling and sometimes fatal lung disease. Eighteen cases of silicosis, including two fatalities, among stone fabrication workers in four states. Several patients also had autoimmune disease and latent tuberculosis infection.

Stone fabrication workers, especially those working with engineered stone, are at risk for silicosis. Given the serious health hazard and significant number of workers at risk, additional efforts are needed to reduce exposures and improve disease surveillance.

Published by Causey Wright