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Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Biomarkers Discovered for Mesothelioma May Lead to Early Detection

Using a novel aptamer-based proteomics array technology, researchers and collaborators have identified biomarkers and protein signatures that are hallmarks of cancer at an early stage for two of the most aggressive and deadly forms of cancer — pancreatic and mesothelioma.

This technology would enable better clinical diagnosis at an earlier stage and may provide insight into new therapeutic targets, said Rachel Ostroff, Ph.D., clinical research director of Somalogic Inc.

“Currently these cancers are detected at an advanced stage, where the possibility of cure is minimal,” said Ostroff. “Detection of these aggressive cancers at an earlier stage would identify patients for early treatment, which may improve their survival and quality of life.”

Ostroff presented results of this ongoing study at the Fourth AACR International Conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development.

Discovered about 20 years ago, aptamers are nucleic acid molecules that bind to specific proteins. SomaLogic has developed the next generation of aptamers, SOMAmers (Slow Off-rate Modified Aptamers), which have superior affinity and specificity. SOMAmers enable a highly multiplexed proteomic platform used for simultaneous identification and quantification of target proteins in complex biological samples.

The goal of this study was to determine if this proteomics technology could identify blood-based biomarkers for pancreatic cancer or mesothelioma in people diagnosed, but not yet treated, for cancer.

Participants in the control group had symptoms that resembled these cancers, but were benign (i.e. pancreatitis or lung fibrosis).

Ostroff and colleagues tested blood from participants to discover the biomarkers specific to those with cancer, which would then be used to identify these diseases at an early stage, where the potential for effective treatment is much higher than in disease that has progressed.

For both forms of cancer, the researchers discovered biomarkers and developed a signature with high accuracy for detection of each form of cancer. Equally important, they found high specificity, meaning few people without disease will be incorrectly diagnosed and thus avoid unnecessary tests or treatments.

“Validation studies are underway, which we hope will lead to the development of diagnostic tests that hold clinical benefits for patients,” Ostroff said.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related pulmonary cancer that causes an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 deaths per year worldwide.

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman  1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered asbestos related disease.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co Placed into Rehabilitation

The NJ Division of Workers' Compensation has responded to an Order of Rehabilitation of Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company and Centennial Insurance Company entered by the New York Supreme Court entered on September 14, 2010. The NJ Division of Workers' Compensation has directed that 120 active cases now pending are stayed until further notice.

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered work related accident and injuries.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

US Workers Compensation Centennial Commission

This  10-minute video was created for the National History Day contest by students at Nimitz High School in Houston, Texas.

The Workers’ Compensation Centennial Commission was formed to celebrate the first constitutional workers’ compensation law in the United States which was signed on May 3, 1911 and took full effect on Sept. 1, 1911.  It was a recognition of society’s responsibility to the workplace, establishing workers compensation as the first form of social insurance in American history.  Today, workers’ compensation stands as a pillar within our economic system that benefits all Americans.

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered work related accident and injuries.

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Campaign for Centennial Workers Compensation Postage Stamp

The Trend to Exclude Distracted Driving From Workers' Compensation Coverage

The trend nationally is to prohibit the use of cell phones in motor vehicles. Such a ban would make use of a cellphone while working a deviation from employment and accidents involving cell phone use at work would then be considered a deviation from employment and excluded from workers' compensation coverage,

Citing cell phone usage while driving, the Federal Government is making a major initiative to get workers off cell phone while at work. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the agenda for the second national Distracted Driving Summit to be held on September 21st , 2010 in Washington, DC.

Building on the success of last year’s summit, Secretary LaHood will convene leading transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement, industry representatives, researchers and victims affected by distraction-related crashes to address challenges and identify opportunities for national anti-distracted driving efforts. U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar will also speak at the summit. 

“Thousands of people are killed or injured every year in accidents caused by distracted drivers,” said Secretary LaHood. “One year after our first national Distracted Driving Summit, we will reconvene to take stock of our progress and reassess the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I look forward to hearing insights from our distinguished panelists and guests, and know that by working together, we will save lives.”

The 2010 Distracted Driving Summit will be live webcast at, enabling the participation of people around the country. US employers are urged to set policies to prohibit the use of cell phones at work. "Use a variety of organizational channels to communicate with employees the company's commitment to safety and health and specifically to the nonuse of cell phones and texting. Make it clear to your employees that the expectation is that they will NOT talk or text on their cell phones while driving on company time or in company vehicles. Have employees sign a contract that says they will not violate the organization’s ban on texting and driving."

Many State Laws already ban the use of cell phones while driving. Sample legislation to be used as a starting point for states crafting new laws to prohibit texting while driving has been encouraged. 

Making the workplace safer is a major purpose of workers' compensation law. Public policy will certainly support the effort to end distracted driving. The trend to exclude coverage for distracted driving is a signifiant move in the right direction to help workers steer clear of accidents.

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered work related accident and injuries.

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National Mesothelioma Awareness Day September 26

A "National Mesothelioma  Awareness Day" will be commemorated on September 26, 2010. Nearly 3,000 individuals are afflicted yearly with this fatal disease associated with exposure to asbestos fiber. 

Last year, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced Senate Resolution 288 to commemorate September 26th as "National Mesothelioma  Awareness Day. " A similar resolution is now pending in the US House of Representatives. It was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 

  • Whereas mesothelioma is a terminal cancer related to exposure to asbestos that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, or testicles;
  • Whereas workers who are exposed to asbestos on a daily basis over a long period of time are most at risk, but even short-term exposures to asbestos can cause the disease;
  • Whereas exposure to asbestos for as little as 1 month can cause mesothelioma 20 to 50 years later;
  • Whereas asbestos was used in the construction of virtually all office buildings, public schools, and homes built before 1975, and more than 3,000 products sold in the United States contain asbestos;
  • Whereas there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos;
  • Whereas millions of workers in the United States have been, and continue to be, exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos;
  • Whereas the National Institutes of Health reported to Congress in 2006 that mesothelioma is a difficult disease to detect, diagnose, and treat;
  • Whereas the National Cancer Institute recognizes a clear need for new treatments to improve the outlook for patients with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases;
  • Whereas the need to develop treatments for mesothelioma was overlooked for decades;
  • Whereas even the best available treatments for mesothelioma typically have only a very limited effect, and a person diagnosed with mesothelioma is expected to survive between 8 and 14 months;
  • Whereas mesothelioma has claimed the lives of such heroes and public servants as Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., and Congressman Bruce F. Vento;
  • Whereas many mesothelioma victims were exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy;
  • Whereas it is believed that many of the firefighters, police officers, and rescue workers who served at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, may be at increased risk of contracting mesothelioma in the future; and
  • Whereas cities and localities throughout the United States will recognize September 26, 2009, as `Mesothelioma Awareness Day'
For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman  1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered asbestos related disease.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Victory for an Aircrew for Breathing Contaminated Aircraft Air

A major global legal precedent has been established with an Australian flight attendant winning damages for injury from exposure to aircraft air contaminated by oil fumes and smoke.

The problem of aircraft cabin air becoming contaminated by synthetic jet engine oils containing organophosphates (such as Tricresyl Phosphate, TCP) and a wide range of chemicals has been ongoing sin

The aviation industry has known about the potential for exposure to oil fumes in the cabin and flight deck during normal commercial flights for more than 50 years. Instead of mandating air contaminant filters and monitors, the industry denies the problem and allows aircrew and passengers to breathe oil fumes that contaminate the aircraft air supply since the 1950s.

On  September 3, 2010 a former Australian flight attendant became the first person in the world to win a civil case resulting from breathing oil smoke and fumes in the aircraft cabin on a BAe 146 in Australia in 1992.

The legal precedent Joanne Turner v. Eastwest Airlines was made in the High Court of Australia. Ms Turner a former flight attendant with Australia’s Ansett and Eastwest Airlines, was exposed to smoke and fumes resulting from a failed oil seal on a BAe 146 flight between Sydney and Brisbane on 4 March 1992, while 5 months pregnant.

The court found that Ms Turner was exposed to oil fumes and smoke generated from engine oil that had leaked into a component of the aircraft air supply system called the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU -engine).

The failure of the APU oil seal was found to be foreseeable, as was the risk that smoke from the leaking oil would enter the aircraft cabin.

Cabin smells from oil were noted to be an ongoing problem acknowledged by the defendant, with numerous complaints about the cabin air prior to the incident on 4 March 1992, including an entry 10 days prior to the incident stating: ‘APU AIR NOT FIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.’

Ms Turner was found to have been exposed to Mobil Jet Oil II on 4 March 1992 with the court finding that ‘pyrolysed effects of Mobil Jet Oil II are harmful to the lungs.’ As such Ms Turner suffered from a pathological condition to the lungs caused by exposure to the smoke and that condition has continued for more than eighteen years and is expected to be life-long. As such Ms Turner was awarded $138,757 Australian dollars.

The defendant appealed the decision to the New South Wales Court of Appeal and then the High Court of Australia, however subsequently lost both appeals on 1 April 2010 and 3 September 2010 respectively.

It is well documented that synthetic jet engine oil leaks into aircraft cabin air (as a feature of using air supplied through the engines) and that such exposures are a flight safety and health concern, for both aircrew and passengers. Contaminated air exposures are now known to be a normal regular occurrence, an expected occurrence and regrettably an accepted occurrence within the aviation industry.

This court verdict supports the long held Global Cabinet Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) view that industry actions currently being undertaken to address the issue of exposure to aircraft bleed air are inadequate. The court verdict clearly demonstrates that the call by the industry for further research to determine what chemicals are present when engine oil leaks and how often this occurs is unwarranted. There is already enough evidence available to satisfy the duty of care requirements.

The benchmark has now been set supporting that exposure to oil leaking into the aircraft air supply is harmful to people, both aircrew and passengers.

The supply air for the cabin and flight deck is taken from either the engine or APU and is not filtered for engine oil fumes before people breathe it. Commercial aircraft are not equipped with detection equipment to alert the crew that the air is contaminated, creating an unacceptable flight safety and public health issue. The aviation industry inaction ignores the fact that aircrew and passengers are owed a duty of care and there is, without doubt, enough evidence to apply the precautionary principle and prevent oil contaminating the air supply with proactive maintenance and bleed air cleaners and monitors.

The GCAQE calls for all future aircraft to be designed using bleed free technology such as that used by the Boeing 787, for all current aircraft to be fitted with suitable filters and detection systems, and for airlines to service their fleets with less toxic oils. This court verdict supports that 60 years of unfiltered bleed air is no longer acceptable.
For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational illnesses. Author NJ Workers Compensation Law (West).

UN Agency Urges Worldwide Asbestos Ban

The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) has called for a worldwide ban on asbestos production citing that there is an asbestos related death every 5 minute and asbestos already claims 107,000 lives each year. The ILO has warned that asbestos industry lobbyists must not claim support of the ILO in its effort to continue asbestos production.

Asbestos, for decades, has been linked to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma remains an incurable and fatal disease. While asbestos use has been banned in many countries, Canada and the United States have yet to ban is use. 

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered asbestos related disease.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Facebook Makes an Appearance in Workers' Compensation Court

Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have now become informational sources that workers' compensation lawyers are now utilizing for evidentiary purposes. The question that remains unanswered is how information obtained through social networking sites can be admitted and utilized as evidence.

In a recently published article, Law School Professor Gregory M. Duhl and attorney Jaclyn S. Millner, focus on the issues of professional responsibility, discovery, privacy and evidence when social networking factors integrate with a workers's compensation proceeding. Since the compensation system is theoretically no-fault and the evidentiary system is informal, the authors theorize that the workers' compensation arena will act as a fertile ground for experimentation in the legal application of this new technology. 

Social networking site have experienced a surge in use. Web users spend more time on Facebook now than on Google.  Workers' Compensation judges are  also increasing their use of social networking sites.

Text, photos and commentary, shared among the social network, will provide a new avenue of factual discovery that may assist the decision maker in reaching an evaluation of the claim. The authors review the professional responsibilities of attorneys to their clients in advising them of the potential benefits and hazards of social networking, as well as  their  strategy for preparing text and photographic material into evidence. They conclude that lawyers handling workers' compensation matters need to be educated on how to properly utilize facts and opinions gathered from the social networking system.

Duhl, Gregory M. and Millner, Jaclyn S., Social Networking and Workers’ Compensation Law at the Crossroads (September 2010). Pace Law Review, Vol. 31; William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-16. Available at SSRN:
For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational illnesses. Author NJ Workers Compensation Law (West).

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fraud Unit DA in California Admits to Knowing Zero About Employee Rights

"I don't really know about what employees' rights are when it comes to workers' comp," he said.  "I know what fraud is, I can talk about that all day long.  But in terms of what their rights are, I will admit to Yolo County I am neglectful of that."

Lt. Stroski continues,  "So if anyone wants to help me out with that I would be glad to take that advice and run with it and include it in our outreach program. Bottom line is I have been remiss in doing that because I don't feel I'm qualified.  If you are going to ask me that, the answer is zero, I don't feel qualified."

Complete Article:

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational illnesses. Author NJ Workers Compensation Law (West).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NJ Workers Compensation Payments to Decrease

For the first time in history, the NJ workers compensation benefit rates are going to decrease. The maximum benefit rate will decrease 0.3% from $794.00 to $792.00 per week.

The 2011 maximum workers' compensation benefit rates for temporary disability, permanent total disability, permanent partial disability and the dependency rate are based upon the States's Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) for the year prior. New Jersey currently provides for a maximum benefit of 75% of the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW). 

The New Jersey maximum rate has been considered significantly low when compared to to other states and perennially a higher adjustment has been recommended.  

The rate applies to those work related injuries and deaths that occur in 2011. NJ ADC 12)2351.6, 42 N.J.R. 1994 (a). In 2007 the rate rose a modest 2.7 %.

Historically, NJ maximum workers' compensation has only risen yearly over the decades. The 2011 announced decrease represents a major slow down in the State's economy. Despite the announced fall in scheduled disability rates, the cost of soaring medical treatment remains uncapped and its economic impact remains uncertain in an era of declining payrolls and lower premium collections for compensation benefits.
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For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational illnesses. Author NJ Workers Compensation Law (West).

Monday, September 6, 2010

$30.4 Million Verdict in Popcorn Flavoring Lawsuit

A jury in the Chicago area awarded a local factory worker $30.4 Million for a pulmonary illness resulting from exposure to popcorn flavoring,  diacetyl. The verdict is considered to be largest ever in the US for an individual claim involving a chemical used to flavor popcorn.

Click here to read the Chicago Tribune article

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational illnesses. The read more about diacetyl and workers' compensation click here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Fatal Consequences of the GM Bankruptcy

Logo of General Motors Corporation. Source: 20...Image via Wikipedia
The General Motors (GM) bankruptcy is going to adversely impact workers' compensation. It has been estimated that GM is facing  $500 Million worth of future mesothelioma claims that its bankruptcy estate is going to avoid paying. The claims will arise because  deadly asbestos fiber that was used in in the manufacture of GM products including brakes.

Last month U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber in New York permitted the unsecured creditors (asbestos claimants) to obtain documentation from GM about the number of estimated / asbestos liability claims it could be facing in the future. As a result of the bankruptcy action, GM transfered its assets only to
Motors Liquidation Co., but it plans not to transfer its asbestos liabilities to the new company. Therefore, future asbestos claims against GM will not be paid.

Brakes linings were raw asbestos. GM brakes were sold to and used by auto-mechanics for decades.  
Asbestos is a known carcinogen and its deadly effects have been recognized since the early 20th century. One of the latent diseases caused by asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, a rare and fatal illness.

Workers' Compensation systems throughout the United States have been literally swamped with asbestos related claims as the workforce aged and the disease has manifested. The workers' compensation insurance carriers and past employers who used asbestos products have sought to be reimbursed for benefits paid to injured workers by the ultimate wrongdoers, the suppliers, manufacturers and distributors of asbestos products. Those wrongdoers failed to place warning of its products concerning the hazards of asbestos fiber and knew of the hazards.

Taking away the right of ill employees to seek benenfits from GM for its alleged wrongful acts will severely impact the workers' compensation system throughout the US, especially if this process of avoidance becomes of model for future asbestos bankruptcy actions. Difficulties navigating the workers compensation systems at present for occupational illness benefits have become burdensome and extremely difficult for injured workers and their families. GM's attempt to absolve itself from financial responsibility for asbestos related disease should not be permitted as it may create a fatal economic attack on the ailing compensation system.

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered asbestos related disease.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

CMS/MSP Statute Tolling Case Set for Hearing by Federal Court

The claim filed by the US government for reimbursement against multiple law firms and insurance companies has been scheduled for a hearing September 13, 2010 on the pending motions. The Federal government, who has claimed that the Statute of Limitation was tolled, is seeking reimbursement involving over 900 specific claims that were paid involving a liability action. The gross settlement was $275 Million for which payment was made in 2003.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicad Services (CMS) under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act has alleged that it was not reimbursed. The Government contends that the Statute of Limitations under 28 U.S.C.2415 is 6 years and not three years. Alternatively the Government has argued that the Statute  f Limitations was tolled under 28 U.S,C, 2416(c), which permits tolling where a claim has accrued, but "facts material to the right of action are not known and reasonably could not be known" by the Government.

The attorneys and insurance companies contend that the Statute of Limitations is a valid defense since the the claim arose when the defendants were originally obligated under the settlement agreement to make payment. Travelers and AIG, as parent companies,  claim that they are not proper parties to the case and should be removed as parties. The insurance companies, in a brief filed in June 2003, also allege that the bar to permitted the statute of limitation tolling should have been dropped under Federal statute. The stated in  "....once the facts making up the 'very essence of the right of action' are reasonably knowable."

United States of America v. James J. Stricker, et al., Case No. 1:09-cv-02423-KOB (USDCT AL).

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Amended Complaint Filed in CMS Recovery Action Against Law Firms

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational exposures.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Spinal Kinetics-A New Computer Assisted Radiographic Mensuration Analysis

A new approached to the objective measurement of spinal damage is now being offered by Spinal Kinetics. The technique provides standards for the measurement for spinal ligamentous assessments using Computer Assisted Radiographic Analysis (CRMA). Board Certified Radiologists utilize a new computer assisted program to  determine: a treatment plan, ability to play and work, as well a pain management.

Click here to read more about this Spinal Kinetics
For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational exposures.