(c) 2018 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Football: The Business of Uncompensated Injuries

It is hard to image that any other Industry that denies its employees workers’s compensation benefits for known work-connected injuries would be bragging about a mere 13% reduction in head injuries. That is what the NFL is doing this week in advance of it’s annual mayhem ritual called the Super Bowl.
Sports entertainment is just big business. A major distraction to the routine of boring and tedious daily activities the NFL has found an addictive niche market, feed by high TV rating (ESPN) and fueled by gambling. A common denominator of public distraction. 
The pawns in the system are those young “student-athletes” who take a risk as unpaid talent to carry on the dream for riches and fame as cheap (free) talent for the cause of school spirit and the hope of landing an NFL contract. The tragic risks exist even at that level of are more than obvious as I saw a Rutgers player crack his neck on the MetLife Stadium field in the Rutgers v Army game a couple of years ago.
Todays post is shared from the
 As the professional sports conglomerates spread their political influence from state house to state house demolishing the basic tenants of workers’ compensation.They continue their effort to bar injured players from seeking basic workers’ compensation benefits for known occupational risks,.They are now bragging about a mere 13% reduction. What about the other 87%? The injured players they can go uncompensated?
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Khobragade Indicted on Fraud Charges

Today's post was shared by WSJ Law Blog and comes from

Federal prosecutors in New York on Thursday announced the indictment of the Indian official whose arrest last month set off protests in India and strained relations between the nations.

The charges against Devyani Khobragade, though, were delayed amid uncertainty about whether she had fled the country. The consular worker is accused of submitting false documents to get a work visa for a babysitter and housekeeper in her Manhattan home. She has denied all the charges.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, Manhattan prosecutors said that a federal grand jury had voted to return an indictment against the 39-year-old Ms. Khobragade, charging her with two counts — visa fraud and making false statements.

Prosecutors initially said Ms. Khobragade had left the U.S. on Thursday. But they later learned that she may not have gotten on her flight, according to a person familiar with the matter. Her whereabouts were not immediately clear.

The U.S. Marshal’s Office last month said Ms. Khobragade had been strip-searched after she was arrested and “placed in a cell with other female defendants” as part of standard procedure.

Anger over her treatment prompted demonstrations in India and led the Indian government to revoke diplomatic privileges for American officials and remove security barriers near the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

Attempting to calm the situation, Secretary of State John Kerry last month “expressed his regret, as well as his concern...

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Uncertainty Over Whether N.F.L. Settlement’s Money Will Last

As intriguing football matchups go, Sunday’s Super Bowl has nothing on one looming down the turnpike in federal court in Philadelphia — with Judge Anita B. Brody the ultimate referee.

Brody, considering the N.F.L.'s recent settlement with 4,500 retirees over work-related brain injuries, has asked both sides to demonstrate that their $765 million bargain will fulfill its promise to compensate every currently retired player who has or will develop a neurological condition such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs and the N.F.L. said independent actuaries and medical experts had endorsed the terms of the settlement. But the lawyers refuse to share any of their data with the public to help substantiate how they arrived at the $765 million figure, and there is growing displeasure among plaintiffs who have not been allowed to see the data, either.

Numbers can speak for themselves, though, and they bring a clear warning: The $765 million could run out faster than either side apparently believes. When one forecasts how many of the roughly 13,500 currently retired players may develop these conditions over the next 65 years, compensating them as the settlement directs could very well require close to $1 billion, and perhaps more.

No one can divine how many players will develop these conditions. But the best data available comes straight from the N.F.L., and it becomes instructive after some basic guidelines.

The settlement essentially...

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Uncertainty Over Whether N.F.L. Settlement's Money Will Last
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Concern Raised Over Opt-Out Terms of NFL Concussion Settlement

Today's post was shared by WSJ Law Blog and comes from

When a federal judge refused to sign off on the NFL’s $764 million concussion settlement with retired players earlier this month, both the league and lead plaintiffs’ lawyers portrayed the development as a mere procedural hiccup.

The deal may appear to be within inches from the goal line, but the family of the late NFL star Junior Seau is putting up resistance, emerging as one of the most vocal critics of the proposed settlement.

An attorney for the Seau family filed a memo on Jan. 24 objecting to the tentative terms. The family may not be alone as lawyers representing dozens of former NFL players pore over the fine print of the 85-page proposed deal.

U.S. District Judge Anita Brody held off on giving her preliminary approval of the deal because she was concerned that the $764 million might not be enough to cover all potential recipients. She instructed both sides to supply the court with more information on how they arrived at their numbers.

The lawsuit by the Seau family, who are potential class members, stands apart from the bulk of claims, most of which do not involve the death of a player. But some of the family’s objections raise broader concerns that could resonate with other plaintiffs, according to Steve Strauss, the attorney representing Mr. Seau’s children.

Speaking to Law Blog, Mr. Strauss said he was especially concerned by the opt-out terms in the deal.

Plaintiffs who do not want to bind themselves to the settlement would have...

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Judge Disqualified over Facebook ‘Friend’ Request

Today's post was shared by WSJ Law Blog and comes from

Back in February, the American Bar Association cautioned judges about their use of social media. While sites like Facebook and Twitter can help judges stay in touch with the wider world, the ABA admonished that they should think twice before “friending,” “liking,” or “following” somebody.

A case in Florida drives home that concern.

The dispute centers around a circuit court judge who presided over a divorce proceeding. Before entering a final judgment, Judge Linda D. Schoonover sent the wife a Facebook “friend” request that the woman didn’t accept, according to court documents. In a complaint, the lawyer for the wife accused the judge of then retaliating against her by allegedly saddling her with “most of the marital debt” and giving the husband “a disproportionately excessive alimony award.”

Last week, an appellate court kicked the judge off the case and assigned the matter to a different judge, concluding that the wife had a “well-founded fear of not receiving a fair and impartial trial.”

The unrequited friend request “placed the litigant between the proverbial rock and a hard place: either engage in improper ex parte communications with the judge presiding over the case or risk offending the judge by not accepting the ‘friend’ request,” the appeals court wrote in its Jan. 24 decision. (Chicago intellectual property attorney Evan Brown, who blogs about...

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Supreme Court Rules for Employers in Two Cases

Today's post was shared by WSJ Law Blog and comes from

The Supreme Court Monday gave airlines a wide berth to report potential security threats, dismissing a pilot’s lawsuit alleging his employer defamed him by telling the Transportation Security Administration he could be armed and mentally unstable.

Separately, the court rejected a claim by steelworkers from Gary, Ind., that they were entitled to pay for time spent putting on safety gear, finding that the task qualified as “changing clothes,” for which their union contract didn’t require compensation.

Finally, Monday, the court sided with a convicted heroin dealer to rule that he couldn’t be punished for the death of one of his customers because of evidence that the man’s health was so poor he might have died even without the narcotic.

All three decisions were unanimous or nearly so, underscoring that despite gulfs in the most charged disputes, justices of different ideological backgrounds agree on a significant number of legal issues. Read the full story here.

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Obama to Raise Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors, Asserting Executive Power

Today's post was shared by WSJ Law Blog and comes from

President Barack Obama plans to act unilaterally to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors, a move that asserts his executive powers before his State of the Union address in which he will press Congress to approve a broader increase this year, write Carol E. Lee and Eric Morath. Read the full WSJ story here.

The executive order would raise the minimum wage for workers on new federal contracts to $10.10 an hour, according to a fact sheet from a White House official. It said Mr. Obama would announce the new policy in his speech Tuesday, which is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and hasn’t been raised since July 2009. About 16,000 federal employees were paid at or below minimum wage in 2012, according to the Labor Department. The agency doesn’t specify how many employees were government contractors.

Mr. Obama’s executive policy change is the opening salvo in a broader, election-year push by Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for all eligible workers. The White House has planned for months to make the minimum wage an issue in November’s midterm elections.

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In a First, Northwestern Players Seek Unionization

Today's post was shared by The New York Times and comes from

The increasingly contentious and complicated relationship between the N.C.A.A. and its top amateur athletes took another step toward a legal showdown on Tuesday when a group of Northwestern football players appealed to the National Labor Relations Board with the first effort by college athletes to join a labor union.

Kain Colter, Northwestern’s starting quarterback last season, was joined by Ramogi Huma, the president of the newly formed College Athletes Players Association, and Leo W. Gerard, the president of United Steelworkers, to announce that a petition had been filed on behalf of Colter and his teammates to seek union representation.

“College athletes need a labor organization that can give them a seat at the table,” Huma said, adding, “This ends a period of 60 years when the N.C.A.A. has knowingly established a pay-for-play system while using terms like ‘student-athlete’ and ‘amateurism’ to skirt labor laws.”

Though payment of players at Football Bowl Subdivision programs and Division I basketball universities has become a thorny issue given the billions of dollars generated by the sports, Colter said medical care, particularly expenses after graduation, was his biggest concern.

“The same medical issues that professional athletes face are...

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Will GPS "Dots" Change Our Privacy Standards in Workers Compensation

As Global Positioning Systems (GPS) expand and integrate with the Internet, the applications for the invasion of privacy seem endless in workers' compensation. GPS "dots" can be applied to employees and/or equipment, to delineate deviation from the course of employment, temporary disability non-work status and treatment compliance.

After listening to the TED Radio Talk this week on NPR, where Todd Humphrey's describes possibilities to of using GPS "dots," one wonders how much privacy an injured employee will be required to surrender because of an accident at work.

Click here to listen to: TED Radio Hour - Predicting the Future

Monday, January 27, 2014

Study: working-age adults more susceptible to severe flu

Today's post is shared from

Working-age adults who have diabetes are more susceptible to severe flu infections, according to a study from University of Alberta researchers who published their findings in Diabetologia. The group's goal was to compare flu levels in adults with and without the disease to help fill in knowledge gaps that underlie vaccination recommendations.

The team cohort study used data from Manitoba, Canada, from 2000 to 2008. All working-age adults were identified and paired with two nondiabetic controls.

Researchers looked at clinic visits, hospitalizations for pneumonia and flu, and all-cause hospitalization. Their analysis included 745,777 person-years of follow-up among 166,715 subjects. Those who had diabetes were more likely to be vaccinated against flu.

People with diabetes had a 6% (relative risk 1.06, 95% confidence interval 1.02 to 1.10; absolute risk difference 6 per 1,000 adults per year) greater increase in all-cause hospitalization linked to flu. However, researchers found no difference between the groups in the rates of flulike illness or pneumonia and influenza.

They concluded that the evidence is the strongest yet for targeting patients with diabetes for flu vaccination.
Jan 24 Diabetologia study

Return To Work is a Program; Return To Function is a Philosophy

Today's post comes from guest author Kit Case, from Causey Law Firm. I am taking Bob's advice and sharing his article with our network. His concepts are spot-on.

I wish I had thought of the two concepts reflected in the title of this article. Alas, I did not. I did, however, once again take two dynamite ideas, combine them into one cohesive concept, thereby saving the universe while still managing to create an enticing, killer headline in the process.

I swear, sometimes it's exhausting being me.

I now serve on the Disability Management & Return to Work Committee of the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). We met Tuesday during the associations 99th Annual Convention in San Diego, CA. Committee Chair Peter Federko tasked the group with defining a working strategy that would encourage and promote successful disability management and return to work programs for both the industry and injured workers. This prompted what I can best describe as a passionate discussion among the members, each with their own take and view on where barriers exist, and what segments should be targeted in any RTW effort.

Federko, who by day is CEO of the Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board, did a masterful job of keeping the conversation focused as we rambled about with our various opinions. Personally I believe that there are many "moving parts" within workers' compensation that all must be aligned and engaged to effectively deploy any respectable RTW program. It requires a team effort from all players. Unfortunately, our current trend in claims management is taking us towards a dehumanization of the process, and this is not conducive for the development of such initiatives.

Two members of this group gave what I believe to be stunning insight, and not just because they dovetail nicely with my beliefs (ok, mostly because they dovetail nicely with my beliefs). Joachim (pronounced Yoke-em) Breuer, with the German workers' comp system and Chair of the ISSA Technical Commission on Accident Insurance, provided tremendous insight when he stated that Return to Work was not a program, but rather a philosophy; a philosophy that needed to be ingrained throughout the workers' compensation system. He was followed in short order by Ken Eichler, Director of Government & Insurance Services, Guidelines Division, for Reed Group. Eichler, who is also Committee Vice Chair, talked of suspicion and resistance on the side of the injured worker. He suggested that, to allay fears that RTW was merely a cleverly disguised cost control scheme, the committee instead develop criteria for a "Return to Function" program. He correctly pointed out that "function" is at the core of all life necessities, and that if we can focus on improving that for injured workers, return to work would be a natural extension of any successful effort.

Brilliant observations from both of them. Federko immediately instructed each to take an extra thousand out of petty cash for their input (not really - I made that up. Ever the cost control maven, Federko wouldn't even open the committee liquor cabinet). Still, this theory was not quite complete. We haven't quite finished mixing all ingredients for our RTW stew. We still have one more to add.

As you may notice, both suggestions by Eichler and Breuer fit quite nicely with my (as yet unsuccessful) effort to reposition and rebrand the workers' compensation industry into the Workers' Recovery industry. We will therefore include that as a third element in the recipe. This concoction produces the following final scrumptious result:

Successful Return to Function must be driven as an overriding philosophy ingrained throughout the Workers' Recovery system.

There. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

The philosophy maintains that we must return as many people as possible to functional capacity for as normal a life as possible. Severely injured workers almost without exception wish to have some normalcy in their life. They have children or grandchildren they hope to hold. They want to dress, walk or go to the bathroom without assistance. They want to be able to do their own shopping, and they literally would like to be able to take a moment, bend over, and smell the roses. An entire system that embraces that knowledge, from employers, TPA's, brokers, carriers, doctors, regulators and the workers themselves, can improve both outcomes and individual lives. With that return to function we offer a return to normalcy, a return to life, and indeed, a return to work.

I cannot speak for the committee nor do I even wish to reveal the path we ultimately chose. Suffice it to say we're on the right track, and have an amazing amount of work ahead of us. But it will be worth it, as it needs to happen. The current trends are not sustainable. Disability rates are on a dramatic rise, being completely dependent on others is becoming socially normalized, and as workers we are getting older by the day. Our knees are wearing out. Our backs are starting to fail. Many of us have no appreciable skills beyond our current jobs. It is a recipe for disaster if we don't act, and act quickly.

Restoring life and viability by returning to function via the process of workers' recovery must be the wave of the future. The choice is simple. Embrace the philosophy today or pay for the reality tomorrow.

What choice will we make?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rauner makes U-turn on minimum wage: 'I was flippant'

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from

Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bruce Rauner said on Wednesday that he made a mistake when he proposed slashing the state's minimum wage by one dollar.

“I made a mistake. I was flippant and I was quick,” Rauner told the Tribune as he continued a bus tour through southern Illinois.

“I should have said, ‘Tie the Illinois minimum wage to the national wage and, in that context, with other changes in being pro-business, I support raising the national minimum wage.’ I’m OK with that,” said the Republican from Winnetka.

Rauner’s original call to cut Illinois’ $8.25 per hour minimum wage to the $7.25 federal level had threatened to upend a carefully crafted campaign aimed at convincing Republican primary voters and independents that the man who is potentially the wealthiest candidate ever to run for public office in the state was a regular guy.

Democrats on the national and state level, from President Obama to Gov. Pat Quinn, have pointed to a growing problem of wage disparity between rich and poor as a 2014 campaign theme and have called for minimum wage increases.

At the same time, Rauner’s three rivals in the March 18 GOP primary for governor have accused him of trying to buy the nomination and contended his wealth has made him out of touch with average voters.

“There’s no way to finesse it. It’s a tough issue for him and I would imagine (opponents) are going to be using it to exploit his...

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

As HHS Moves To End Overload Of Medicare Claims Appeals, Beneficiaries Will Get Top Priority

Medicare beneficiaries who have been waiting months and even years for a hearing on their appeals for coverage may soon get a break as their cases take top priority in an effort to remedy a massive backlog.

Nancy Griswold, the chief judge of the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA), announced in a memo sent last month to more than 900 appellants and health care associations that her office has a backlog of nearly 357,000 claims. In response, she said, the agency has suspended acting on new requests for hearings filed by hospitals, doctors, nursing homes and other health care providers, which make up nearly 90 percent of the cases. She said that she expected the suspension would last about two years.

But beneficiaries’ appeals will continue to be processed, and officials are seeking to “ensure that the relatively small numbers of beneficiary-initiated appeals are being immediately addressed by prioritizing their cases,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in an announcement in the Federal Register.

“Because they are among our nation’s most vulnerable populations, OMHA is committed to being as responsive as possible to the Medicare beneficiary community, regardless of the challenges presented by the significant increase in the number of requests being filed,” Judge Griswold wrote in an email in response to a reporter’s questions. “Beneficiary appeals continue to be assigned as quickly as OMHA can process...

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Premises Rule Extends Compensability to Leaving a Parking lot

A NJ Appellate Court ruled that an employee who is injured in a motor vehicle accident that occurs while leaving an employer's parking lot is entitled to workers' compensation benefits.

"The circumstances of the present case plainly reveal that
Burdette never fully left her employer's premises. Although her
vehicle was in the midst of navigating a left turn onto a public
thoroughfare, the exact spot where Burdette suffered injuries
was neither remote from, nor unconnected to, her work premises.

We reject Harrah's ultra-rigid approach that focuses only on the
colliding vehicles' point of impact and the front seat location
of Burdette in her Explorer. Instead, applying common sense and
the policies inherent in the Act, we subscribe to the judge of
compensation's viewpoint that the injuries suffered here were a
result of Burdette's firm attachment to her place of employment,
albeit while on her way home. The fact that the public also
used the northwest travel lanes of MGM Mirage Boulevard does not
change the result. The inextricable connection between Harrah's
premises and the collision would render a parting of the
accidental injuries from compensability an unjust result.

"The judge of compensation's reliance upon Livingstone to
support his holding that parking lots owned, maintained, or
provided by employers were appropriately considered part of the
employer's premises is unassailable because the Court
acknowledged the Legislature's intent in framing the premises
rule's contours. Livingstone, supra, 111 N.J. at 102. Harrah's
contention that Livingstone sought to limit 'judicially-created
exceptions to the general noncompensability of off-premises
accidents . . . .' is correct. Livingstone, supra, 111 N.J. at 
103. However, this argument is misplaced because the judge of
compensation clearly relied on the case for its general
proposition that parking lots either owned, maintained, or
operated by employers are properly considered part of the
employer's premises.

DOCKET NO. A-4797-12T1 Decided January 17, 2013.

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NY: Liability and workers compensation priority issues for Chamber of Commece

Today's post is shared from

Business leaders are advocating this session of the state Legislature for relief from a state law that holds contractors “absolutely liable” for workplace accidents, said Peter Aust, president and chief executive officer of Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Business leaders want the Legislature to modify Section 240 and 241 of state labor law, known as the Absolute Liability Law, Aust said in a recent interview.

“It’s causing contractors’ insurance rates to go up, and that’s being passed on down to everybody whose doing a project -- whether it’s a housing project or a commercial project,” Aust said.

Business leaders also are seeking changes in workers compensation laws this session, he said.

“Reform measures in worker’s compensation have to happen ... or else we won’t see companies wanting to locate here,” he said.

[Click here to see the rest of this post]

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Smoking Is Worse Than You Imagined

The latest surgeon general’s report on the health effects of smoking — issued at the 50th anniversary of the pathbreaking 1964 report — offers astonishing new evidence of just how much harm tobacco is causing. Despite the many gains in reducing risks over the past half-century, researchers keep finding new and insidious ways in which smoking is harming the smokers themselves and nonsmokers who breathe in toxic fumes.

The report, issued last Friday, finds that cigarette smoking kills even more Americans than previously estimated (about 480,000 a year, up from 443,000), and is a cause, though not necessarily the major cause, of even more diseases than previously recognized, including liver and colorectal cancers. These add to the long list of other cancers caused by smoking, as well as rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments. The report newly identifies exposure to secondhand smoke as a cause of strokes.

The report estimates that smoking costs the United States between $289 billion and $333 billion a year for medical care and lost productivity, well above the previous estimate of $193 billion.

Most shocking, the report finds that today’s smokers have a much higher risk for lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than smokers in 1964, despite smoking fewer cigarettes.

It reports that the risk of developing adenocarcinoma of the lung, the most common type of lung cancer, has increased substantially over the past several decades because of...

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

NJ Supreme Court Hears Premises Rule Case

The Premises Rule maybe getting an updated interpretation by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Within the last several days the Court heard the oral argument in Hersch v The County of Morris. The case involves an employee of a public entity that was given a seniority “perk” of a paid parking pass to the County parking garage.

After parking in the garage, the employee crossed a public road to gain access to her assigned office in the County building. The employee was struck by a motor vehicle. Both the Trial and Appellate Courts held the matter to be compensable.

The NJ Supreme Court was presented by the defense that the accident occurred off premises and out of the control of the employer. The employee argued that the injury occurred within the course of the employment because the employer furnished the parking pass as “perk” to the employee. 
The employer alleged that the parking pass was sent to the employer as enticement to recruit employees, The convenience of which was a closer parking space you safety are going to and from her vehicle.

Video (Windows media) file available on-line from Rutgers University Library

A-59-12 Cheryl Hersch v. County of Morris (071433)

Note: See also Burdette v Harrah’s Atlantic City, 2014 WL 184412 (N.J.Super. A.D. 2014) affirming compensability of an employee’s injuring occurring in a parking lot owned and operated by the employer.
“Because the Act is humanitarian social legislation, it is to be liberally construed in favor of coverage, for the protection of employees. Valdez v. Tri–State Furniture, 374 N.J.Super. 223, 232 (App.Div.2005); see also Zahner v. Pathmark Stores, Inc., 321 N.J.Super. 471, 477 (App.Div.1999) (noting the courts’ liberal construction of the Act's provisions in favor of employees to accomplish its “beneficent purposes”).”

Detroit $165 million bankruptcy settlement rejected

Public entity bankruptcies have placed the stability of workers' compensation and other benefits into a grey area. As the Detroit bankruptcy resolution continues to stumble the consistency necessary for critical benefit delivery raises more questions than answers. Today's post is shared from  .

JURIST] A judge for the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan[official website] on Thursday rejected a proposed $165 million settlement agreement for the now-bankrupt city of Detroit to pay off UBS and Bank of America [corporate websites]. Referring to the agreement as financially imprudent [WSJ report], Judge Steven Rhodes put a halt to what has been the only completed deal in efforts to cut down the city's $18 billion long-term debt obligation. However, the court did approve of the city borrowing $120 million [Detroit Free Press report] for blight removal as well as improvements to city services. Currently, the city pays UBS and Bank of America $50 million each year, 5 percent of Detroit's annual budget, to reduce its debt.
Detroit's bankruptcy matter has been working its way through the court system since the city filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in July of last year. In December 2013 Rhodes ordered the city to renegotiate its bankruptcy-related financing with UBS and Bank of America, serving as the impetus for this week's proposed settlement between the parties. Earlier in December Rhodes ruled that Detroit is eligible and authorized to file for...
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The Conflict Between NAFTA and Comp

The need for a consistent and universal public policy concerning the coverage undocumented aliens becomes heightened by this Arizona decision. The commonality of medical treatment costs for injured foreign employees might provide the catalyst for Federal judicial intervention to resolve this issue. Today's post is authored by David Depaolo and shared from .

It's the long arm of the law.

When the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed into law conservatives applauded that it would open up the forces of economic powers from Mexico that were previously running underground.

Liberals said that NAFTA spelled the end of domestic work for Americans.

Of course, neither of the extreme views became reality.

What did become reality, however, is that Mexican firms sending employees into the United States became subject to the same workers' compensation laws that domestic employers are subject to - a real leveling of the playing field - at least according to a unanimous Arizona Court of Appeals panel opinion.

The court's decision in Porteadores Del Noroeste S.A. v. Industrial Commission of Arizona, No. 1 CA-IC 12-0038 held that the North American Free Trade Agreement did not pre-empt Arizona's workers' compensation statutes and that Porteadores del Noroeste could face liability in Arizona for the additional compensation that one of its workers, Adan Valenzuela, claimed he was due.

Valenzuela worked for Porteadores as a driver,...

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Dramatic Enrollment Drop Was Strategically Planned, Law School Says

A sign of the times. Today's post was shared by WSJ Law Blog and comes from

The historic drop in enrollment at U.S. law schools has been the subject of anxious debate in the legal community. Some view the pattern as a symptom of a sluggish job market and growing skepticism about the value of a law degree.

According to Syracuse University’s College of Law, which has seen a particularly steep drop in its class sizes, the shrinking numbers are the result of smarter planning.

Syracuse’s Class of 2016 is nearly 25% smaller than its Class of 2014, decreasing from 255 to 196 over two years. The law school’s director of admissions, Nikki Laubenstein, spoke to the campus newspaper about the enrollment trend and offered this take:

“Our smaller class size is strategically managed and planned to provide the optimal level of engagement for our students with our law school faculty and programming opportunities,” she told the Daily Orange in an article published Wednesday.

The article doesn’t say how many applications the school is getting compared to previous years. In the face of shrinking demand, many law schools around the nation have slashed their class sizes to prop up student quality.

But Law Blog wonders — if a smaller class size was all part of a plan, as Syracuse’s admissions director suggests, does that mean the law school was offering a less than optimal educational experience when it was bigger? Ms. Laubenstein wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, Syracuse’s student body may...

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Judge Refuses to Sign Off on NFL Settlement

Workers' compensation has been a successful vehicle to shield employers from liability. Perhaps the the NFL should have considered when the legislated some professional athletes out of compensation court. Today's post was shared by WSJ Law Blog and comes from

A federal judge on Tuesday refused to sign off on the NFL’s $760 million concussion settlement with retired players because of concerns that the pot of money might be too small to adequately compensate everyone owed money.
The ruling puts on hold what had been a major victory for the league on a controversial issue that had long haunted the sport. The deal reached last summer after months of negotiations required the NFL to pay $760 million — mostly in the form of medical benefits and injury compensation — to thousands of former players and their families.
A former federal judge acting as a court-appointed mediator endorsed the proposed settlement in court papers this month, calling it “fair and reasonable.”
U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody of Pennsylvania, though, wasn’t convinced, denying her preliminary approval.
“I am primarily concerned that not all Retired NFL Football Players who ultimately receive a Qualifying Diagnosis or their related claimants will be paid,” Judge Brody wrote in her order. “Even if only 10 percent of Retired NFL Football Players eventually receive a Qualifying diagnosis, it is difficult to see how the Monetary Award Fund would have the funds available over its lifespan to pay all claimants at these significant award levels.”
Judge Brody said economists who conducted an analysis on behalf of the retired players believed that the sum was enough. That report, though, wasn’t submitted in...
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