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Friday, May 22, 2015

Compensable Mental Stress and Conflict of Law Decisions Posted

The NJ Division of Workers' Compensation [NJDWC] today published 3 Court of Compensation trial level decisions. All were favorable to the injured workers and their dependents.

1. Mental Stress: Stress (harassment) particular to employment results in compensable psychiatric claim
Ross v. City of Asbury Park
06–28659; decided July 28, 2008 by the Honorable Leslie A. Berich
Petitioner alleged compensable injury as a result of mental stress created by prolonged exposure to a hostile work environment. Respondent denied these allegations. After applying the Goyden test along with other relevant legal principles, the Judge of Compensation found that there were objectively stressful working conditions peculiar to the petitioner’s working environment which entitled the petitioner to workers compensation benefits.

2. Mental Stress: Specific event (Hurricane) results in compensable suicide claim
Wilde v. Township of Cranford
99–40680; decided January 17, 2008 by the Honorable Leslie A. Berich
Petitioner filed a claim for dependency benefits for herself and her two children by asserting that her husband suffered a stress-induced occupational suicide. The respondent defended against the claim by contending that the work of the deceased, including his work as a policeman during Hurricane Floyd, was not causally related to his suicide. After careful consideration of the evidence, the Judge of Compensation awarded dependency benefits based on her finding that the work of the deceased as a policeman during this storm "lead to a loss of normal rational judgment that resulted in his suicide".

3. Conflict of Laws: NJ law applied where a special state interest existed
Spiros v. Atlantic Ambulatory Anesthesia Assocs. & Shrewsbury Surgical Center
12–22032; 13-1069 decided October 27, 2014 by the Honorable Leslie A. Beric
Medical providers filed applications for payment/reimbursement of medical expenses, which alleged that the insurance carrier for the employer unreasonably reduced the petitioner’s bills for services rendered. The carrier filed an answer in which it denied liability and jurisdiction, asserting the petitioner’s bills could be paid only at a contractual rate highly limited by Tennessee statute. The carrier also filed motions to dismiss the medical provider claims. In analyzing whether New Jersey has a special state interest in cases where medical providers provide services in New Jersey to injured workers, the Judge of Compensation found that N.J.S.A. 34:15-15 gives New Jersey’s Division of Workers’ Compensation exclusive subject matter jurisdiction and New Jersey law applies where the workers’ compensation benefits were provided in this state. Accordingly, the carrier’s motions to dismiss the medical providers’ claims were denied.

Summaries were provided by the NJ DWC.