Archive for April, 2010

Case Updates

Friday, April 30th, 2010

~ Defendants’ Alleged Scheme to Deny Workers’ Comp Doesn’t Give Rise to RICO Liability ~

Case Name: Jackson v Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., 24 MIWCLR 28 (E.D. Mich. 2010)

Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss and denied the plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend. Because the misconduct that the defendant’s allegedly agreed to commit does not amount to a RICO violation, the plaintiffs’ RICO conspiracy claim failed as a matter of law.

What it means: RICO does not provide a remedy for the fraudulent denial of benefits because an injured worker may not use RICO as an “end run” around the exclusive procedures and remedies prescribed by the WDCA. Alternatively, a violation of the administrative duties created by statute under the WDCA, even when fraudulent, does not amount to mail or wire fraud sufficient to give rise to RICO liability.

(Source: Michigan Workers’ Compensation Law Reporter, Highlights, Volume 24, Issue 4 April 9, 2010)

~ Insufficient Disability Analysis Stalls Truck Driver’s Open Award~

Case Name: Davis v Quickway Services., 24 MIWCLR 20 (Mich. W.C.A.C. 2010)

Ruling: The Commission remanded the magistrate’s open award to a truck driver for further analysis pursuant to Stokes. The plaintiff did not show what jobs he is qualified and trained to perform within the same salary range as his maximum wage earning capacity at the time of injury.

What it means: Where the record only reveals that the plaintiff cannot perform his last job, the Commission may order a remand for the magistrate to perform additional analysis to determine whether the plaintiff’s impairment meets the definition of disability set forth in MCL 418.304(4), Sington, and Stokes.

(Source: Michigan Workers’ Compensation Law Reporter, Highlights, Volume 24, Issue 3 March 26, 2010)

~ Commission Issues Remand to Grant Hearing on Merits for Defendant ~

Case Name: Dulic v Sweet Express, LLC,, 24 MIWCLR 23 (Mich. W.C.A.C. 2010)

Ruling: After remand of an open award for injuries sustained by the plaintiff in a work-related motor vehicle accident, the Commission again remanded to the magistrate to grant the defendant a hearing on the merits, including an opportunity to introduce evidence.

What it means: Although the Commission does not have a duty to decide Constitutional issues, it may issue a remand, as in this case, where the defendant has not been given a fair hearing or adequate notice of a hearing.

(Source: Michigan Workers’ Compensation Law Reporter, Highlights, Volume 24, Issue 3, March 26, 2010)

~ Inconsistencies Between Hypothetical Questions, Plaintiff’s Testimony Warrants Remand to Reconcile Differences ~

Case Name: Edlinger v. Delphi Automotive Corp, 24 MIWCLR 25 (Mich. W.C.A.C. 2010)

Ruling: Upon review of an open award to a factory worker for bilateral varicose veins, the Commission affirmed the magistrate’s disability analysis, but remanded for additional analysis on the issue of causation. On remand, the magistrate should try to reconcile the differences in the plaintiff’s trial testimony, the medical records, and the hypothetical questions posed to the medical experts.

What it means: Where significant differences exist between hypothetical questions posed to the witnesses and the plaintiff’s testimony about the work he actually performed, the Commission will probably remand for the magistrate to reconcile such differences.

(Source: Michigan Workers’ Compensation Law Reporter, Highlights, Volume 24, Issue 3, March 26, 2010)

~ Lack of Supporting Medical Testimony on Causation Nixes Continuing Benefits ~

Case Name: Easley v Sunrise Assisted Living Center, 24 MIWCLR 26 (Mich. W.C.A.C. 2010)

Ruling: The Commission modified the magistrate’s decision, terminating the plaintiff’s wage loss benefits as of March 26, 2006, as the plaintiff failed to present any evidence that her work-related injuries caused any disability beyond the date of her doctor’s examination.

What it means: A plaintiff’s lay testimony can establish her physical limitations. However, lay testimony does not trump medical opinion on causation. In this case, the magistrate has ignored the lack of a causal link between the plaintiff’s physical limitations and the alleged work injuries. Accordingly, the plaintiff failed to establish a work-related disability finding.

(Source: Michigan Workers’ Compensation Law Reporter, Highlights, Volume 24, Issue 3, March 26, 2010)

~ Deputy’s Failure to Establish Causal Connection Dooms His Retaliation Claim ~

Case Name: Belanger v. Oakland, County of, 24 MIWCLR 31 (E.D. Mich. 2009)

Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgement against the plaintiff, who filed a complaint alleging 14th Amendment substantive due process violations, 1st Amendment retaliation, conspiracy, and workers’ compensation retaliation. A reasonable jury could not find a causal connection between the filing of a benefits claim and adverse action that predated both the incident and the claim.

What it means: The elements required to establish a retaliatory dischare claim are: (1) the plaintiff was engaged in a protected activity; (2) the defendant knew of the protected activity; (3) the defendant acted adversely to the plaintiff; and (4) the protected activity caused the adverse employment activity. Where the employee concedes the fact that less favorable work assignments began before he filed a workers’ compensation claim, the employee has failed to establish a causal connection between filing for workers’ compensation benefits and adverse action by the defendants.

(Source: Michigan Workers’ Compensation Law Reporter, Highlights, Volume 24, Issue 4 April 9, 2010)