(c) 2015 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mesothelioma Award for Household Contact of Talc Worker Upheld for $1.6

A $1.6 Million  award for a household contact of an asbestos worker was affirmed by a NJ Court of Appeals. The child of a Shulton employee was exposed to talc (Old Spice Talcum Powder) containing asbestos when the father brought home asbestos dust.

"In July 2012, plaintiffs Steven G. Kaenzig and Linda Kaenzig filed an asbestos litigation complaint asserting claims of negligence and products liability against several defendants, including Whittaker, Clark & Daniels, Inc. (defendant).1 Defendant was the primary supplier of raw talc to Shulton, Inc., the company that owned the Mays Landing facility (the facility) where the asbestos-contaminated Old Spice and Desert Flower talcum powder was produced. Plaintiffs alleged that Steven contracted mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to the talc, through contact with his father, who worked at the facility from 1967 to 1975.

"Defendant filed several pretrial motions, including a motion to compel plaintiffs to produce testing data and reports prepared by an expert, whom plaintiffs had consulted but did not intend to call at trial, on three "vintage" samples of Old Spice and Desert Flower talcum powder products. The judge denied the motion, but ordered plaintiffs to provide defendant with the samples. The judge also denied defendant's motions to exclude testimony by plaintiffs' experts Sean Fitzgerald, a geologist, and Jacqueline Moline, M.D., but barred Fitzgerald's testimony as to his testing of the "vintage" samples he had received from the non-testifying consulting expert.

"Following a trial in October and November 2013, a jury awarded plaintiffs $1.6 million in compensatory damages. On appeal, defendant challenges several pretrial and trial evidentiary rulings, and the denial of its motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) and a new trial. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.


Ebola Test Vaccines Appear Safe in Phase 2 Liberian Clinical Trial

The National Institutes of Health has announced the advancement of two experimental vaccines for Ebola. This is a major announcement that will provide additional safety for healthcare workers and populations exposed to this deadly disease.

Liberia-U.S. Partnership Planning Phase 3 Trial and Study of Ebola Survivors

Two experimental Ebola vaccines appear to be safe based on evaluation in more than 600 people in Liberia who participated in the first stage of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia (PREVAIL) Phase 2/3 clinical trial, according to interim findings from an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board review. Based on these findings, the study, which is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, may now advance to Phase 3 testing.

“We are grateful to the Liberian people who volunteered for this important clinical trial and encouraged by the study results seen with the two investigational Ebola vaccine candidates,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “Now we must move forward to adapt and expand the study so that ultimately we can determine whether these experimental vaccines can protect against Ebola virus disease and therefore be used in future Ebola outbreaks.”

The PREVAIL trial, which began on Feb. 2, 2015 in Monrovia, Liberia, is testing the safety and efficacy of the cAd3-EBOZ candidate vaccine co-developed by NIAID scientists and GlaxoSmithKline, and the VSV-ZEBOV candidate vaccine developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics Corporation and Merck. Volunteers are assigned at random to receive a single injection of the NIAID/GSK (cAd3-EBOZ) vaccine, the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine, or a placebo (saline) injection. The trial is also double-blinded, meaning that neither study subjects nor staff know whether a vaccine or placebo was administered. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial is considered the “gold standard” in clinical research.

While the initial enrollment goal in the Phase 2 study has been met and the vaccines proven safe, the researchers are continuing Phase 2 study enrollment at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, through late April 2015. This would boost enrollment in the Phase 2 portion of the trial to approximately 1,500 people and would be done, in part, to increase the percentage of women (currently, about 16 percent) in the study for a more robust data set overall. The study follow-up period would be at least one year, and two additional blood samples would be obtained from all volunteers at six and 12 months post-vaccination to determine the durability of the immune responses. These proposed changes will be discussed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are under review by the institutional review boards in Liberia and the United States.

Investigators planned to enroll 27,000 people in Liberia at risk of Ebola infection in the Phase 3 portion of the trial. However, there has been only one new confirmed case of Ebola infection in the country since Feb. 19, 2015. Given this decline in Ebola infection incidence, the trial leaders—H. Clifford Lane, M.D., NIAID deputy director for clinical research, and Liberian co-principal investigators Stephen Kennedy, M.D., and Fatorma Bolay, Ph.D.—have determined that it is scientifically appropriate to expand the trial to additional sites in other West African countries. Discussions are underway to explore that possibility.

The Liberia-U.S. research team also plans to launch a separate natural history study of Ebola survivors to better understand the after-effects of Ebola virus disease. Four sites in Monrovia, Liberia and locations in the United States may begin enrollment into this study in the coming months, pending regulatory review and approval. More information on this study will be provided when the trial launches.

Summer Class Offering for those interested in Environmental Health Problems in the Military in the Washington DC Region

Summer Class Offering for those interested in Environmental Health Problems in the Military in the Washington DC Region

Are you looking for a 1 credit summer elective that addresses military health and veterans policy?  This course is designed to appeal to students from across diverse disciplines, including students from *outside* of George Washington University.

Summer II 2015 - PubH 6199.11 (At George Washington University )
Veterans, Deployment & Environmental Issues - 1 credit - Dr. David Goldsmith
Note that this class meets on Mondays, 6:10pm - 8:40pm, July 6 – Aug 10, 2015 
For more information, please email or call Dr. Goldsmith (, or call 202.549.1019)

This course examines the historical and current policy concerns about environmental exposures and the risks of illness among deployed troops and military veterans. The class will emphasize troops’ exposure during Vietnam, Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.  It will examine the roles of DOD, the VA, and the Institute of Medicine in health protection, exposure monitoring, health research, and policies regarding service-connected disabilities. Current topics such as sexual assault, the increase of women vets, and delays in VA disability benefits, and PTSD/traumatic brain injuries will be included.  Students will write a paper and make a short presentation on a topic of interest.  Both written and oral communication will be emphasized throughout the course. There is no exam. 

This class is a must for anyone seeking a job at the Veterans Administration or with Tricare, or seeking a policy position that addresses the health of active duty military or veterans.

Examples of current news stories that will be covered in the course

Dr. David Goldsmith is an occupational and environmental epidemiologist.  In addition to his long-time affiliation with the George Washington University where he currently serves as a Professorial Lecturer, he has also worked at the U.S. Veteran’s Administration (VA).  Please feel free to share this announcement with others outside of GWU if you think they might be interested. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Does Workers' Compensation Really Have a Place in the iEverything World?

I started my day watching the video of the launch of Apple's iWatch. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, and his team never disappoints with the rollout of amazing new technology. Even the non-believers will be enthralled.

The implementation of Apple's technology is based upon widespread adoption. In the case of linking the iPhone and the iWatch to an iEverything platform they are relying upon the basic instinct for humans to survive and live healthier and longer.

Apple is making a massive move into medicine on a global basis. They are expanding internationally on all fronts including research projects with the world's top medical facilities and training institutions. It is awesome.

Apple is adopting to the changing world. It is helping to change the world simultaneously. The tech company is not stagnated by old technology or systems.

The nation's workers' compensation program is a century old. The system was a good fit for an old market. The system created in 1911 worked well in times that no longer exists today.

I can't get onto my computer without reading about the workers' compensation system being pounded by all factions and stakeholders. The elements and issues that created the nation's workers' compensation program for the most part no longer exist.

Robert Reich wrote this week that technological advancements have automated the workplace. Fewer people are required to do tasks and that number decreases daily. "New technologies aren’t just labor-replacing. They’re also knowledge-replacing."

Last week I had the opportunity to hear Thomas Friedman, Foreign Affairs Columnist of the NY Times, speak about how the world has changed only in the last couple of decades. He talked about what must be done today to meet the realities of the future.

Friedman reflected on Moore's Law,  named after the co-founder of Intel Corporation, Gordon E. Moore. Moore observed that the speed and power of microchips will double every 24 months.

"The really big thing that just happened" Thomas Friedman observed is that, "the Market, Mother Nature and Moore's Law, just went into hyper-acceleration." 

When you apply the observations of both Reich and Friedman to a century-old social remedial program operating as workers' compensation,  a basic question arises. Does the present workers' compensation system really have a place any longer in the iEverything world?

World TB Day — March 24, 2015

Workers who suffer from work-related tuberculosis maybe entitled to benefits under the NJ Workers' Compensation Act. The increased risk for occupational exposure to tuberculosis (TB) is recognized among health care and other workers exposed to persons with active TB and workers exposed to silica or other agents that increase the progression from latent to active TB. CDC Proportionate Mortality from Pulmonary Tuberculosis Associated With Occupations—28 States, 1979–1990. MMWR 1995; Vol. 44/No. 1:14-19.

A worker who was said to have had a pre-existing dormant tuberculosis was permitted to recover workers' compensation benefits as a result of working in an atmosphere containing impurities which were said to have reactivated the tuberculosis condition. Dawson v. E. J. Brooks & Co., 134 N.J.L. 94, 45 A.2d 892 (1946).

Where a 42 year-old worker was required to operate a rapidly propelled grinding wheel and was exposed to dust from the operation, recovery for the aggravation of a “pre-existing latent tuberculosis” was allowed. The medical witness asserted that the grinding wheel produced an excessive amount of dust which, in turn, caused a severe bronchitis resulting in irritation of the lung tissues and increased coughing, causing an aggravation of the underlying tuberculosis. Reynolds v. General Motors Corporation, 38 N.J.Super. 274, 118 A.2d 724 (Co.1955), aff'd 40 N.J.Super. 484, 123 A.2d 555 (App.Div.1956).

A foundry worker who suffered silicosis in the course of his employment as a molder was permitted recovery based upon the theory that the silicosis aggravated the petitioner's dormant tuberculosis condition. Masko v. Barnett Foundry & Machine Co., 53 N.J.Super. 414, 147 A.2d 579 (App.Div.1959), certif. denied 29 N.J. 464, 149 A.2d 859 (1959).

An individual working in a ribbon factory who was exposed to dust and fumes from carbon paper, teletype, and typewriter ribbons was permitted to recover disability as a result of the activation of an underlying tuberculosis condition by the dust and fumes. Bond v. Rose Ribbon & Carbon Mfg. Co., 78 N.J.Super. 505, 189 A.2d 459 (App.Div.1963), certif. granted 40 N.J. 499, 193 A.2d 137 (1963), aff'd 42 N.J. 308, 200 A.2d 322 (1964).

Each year, World TB Day is observed on March 24. This annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). World TB Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about TB-related problems and solutions and to support worldwide TB control efforts.

For the second year, CDC supports the theme "Find TB. Treat TB. Working together to eliminate TB." Health officials in local and state TB programs are encouraged to provide educational awareness regarding TB to their communities and to work with other agencies and organizations that care for those most at risk for TB.

In 2014, a total of 9,412 new cases of TB were reported in the United States, a rate of 3.0 per 100,000 population (1). Although the total number of TB cases continues to decline, 2014 showed the smallest decline in incidence in over a decade. Nationally, TB still persists at greater incidence in foreign-born persons and racial or ethnic minorities.

CDC is committed to a world free from TB. Initiatives to improve awareness, testing, and treatment of latent TB infection and TB disease among groups at high risk are critical to achieve elimination of TB in the United States.

Additional information regarding World TB Day and CDC's TB elimination activities is available at


​1) ​Scott C, Kirking HL, Jeffries C, Price SF, Pratt R. Tuberculosis trends—United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2015;64:265–9

Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Is The Reserve Offset Heading for Extinction?

The Obama Administration is proposing stricter collection of workers' compensation payments data of Social Security beneficiaries.

Social Security-Budget Estimates and Related Information
Budget Overview, February 2015

"10. Establish Workers’ Compensation Information Reporting. Current law requires SSA to reduce an individual’s Disability Insurance (DI) benefit if he or she receives workers’ compensation (WC) or public disability benefits (PDB). SSA currently relies upon beneficiaries to report when they receive these benefits. This proposal would improve program integrity by requiring states, local governments, and private insurers that 23 administer WC and PDB to provide this information to SSA. Furthermore, this proposal would provide for the development and implementation of a system to collect such information from states, local governments, and insurers."


With that information, the SSA can determine if the Federal Government is accurately calculating the Federal SSA/Workers' Compensation setoff.

 The obvious inequity, cost shifting, exists in those states where a reverse offset is taken. In those states, ie. NJ, the workers' compensation insurance company takes the offset credit, and NOT the Federal Government (SSA).

The collection and publication of this data will verify the inequity between States and the cost shifting to the Federal government in some states and not others.  A demand for the elimination of this inequity may result in the extinction of the Reverse Offset.

See:  The Gift That Keeps Giving: The SSA Reverse Offset

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Switch to Daylight Savings Time Results in More Workplace Accidents

Researchers have reported that the switch to Daylight Savings Time (DST), moving clocks forward one hour ahead, is dangerous to the health of workers. Today marks yet another year when the US law mandates moving clocks one hour.

"...two researchers from Michigan State University have conducted a research project that could well contain the warning “Beware of the days after the change to Daylight Savings Time,” the second Sunday in March when an hour of sleep is lost as clocks jump ahead.

Using U.S. Department of Labor and Mine Safety and Health Administration data, Christopher Barnes and David Wagner, both doctoral candidates studying industrial and organizational psychology, found that the number of workplace accidents spikes after Daylight Savings Time changes every March.

On the other hand, they found no significant increase in workplace accidents or sleep loss when the clocks were set back an hour in November.

In two separate studies, they found that the March switch to Daylight Savings Time resulted in 40 minutes less sleep for American workers, a 5.7 percent increase in workplace injuries and nearly 68 percent more work days lost to injuries."

Click here to read the entire article.

See also, "Changing to Daylight Saving Time Cuts Into Sleep and Increases Workplace Injuries," Christopher M. Barnes, PhD, and David T. Wagner, PhD, Michigan State University; Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 94, No. 5

"Daylight Saving Time Transitions and Road Traffic Accidents", Tuuli Lahti et al., Journal of Environmental and Public Health, Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 657167, 3 pages

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