Co-Managing Partner Maria Paris Newill will be giving a seminar on September 18th at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino for the organization SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management). Mrs. Newill’s seminar will focus on Workers’ Compensation.
Heckler & Frabizzio offers four different topics for our seminars that are approved for credits by the Department of Insurance. For more information please contact Firm Administrator, Page Hyson.
NWCDN CONFERENCE 2018
Heckler & Frabizzio’s Partner William Rimmer will be attending the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network Conference in Minneapolis on September 26th & 27th. Mr. Rimmer is the only Delaware Attorney associated with the NWCDN, we are very proud of his accomplishments.
H&F WELCOMES NEW ATTORNEY
Heckler & Frabizzio is pleased to announce the addition of Stephen Nowak to our Firm’s Workers’ Compensation department.
Mr. Nowak grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and came to Delaware to attend University of Delaware where he received a BA in Business with a focus in Marketing. Following college, Mr. Nowak attended Widener University School of Law, where he was a note and comment editor for the Law Review, Delaware Journal of Corporate Law. Steve excelled at Widener and graduated Cum Laude.
After law school, Mr. Nowak served as a law clerk to the Hon. Clarence W. Taylor of the Delaware Superior Court. He has worked at Prickett, Jones, and Elliott, the City of Wilmington Law Department, New Castle County Department of Finance and his own solo practice. He is admitted to practice in the State of Delaware, United States District Court for the District of Delaware as well as the United State Supreme Court.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION REPORT
Claimant Attorney Battle Royale – Employer Wins!
Claimant worked at her spouse’s law practice, focusing on representing claimants in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters. She was his only employee. She filed a Petition against the law firm, alleging a February 19, 2016 work injury to the lumbar spine, and sought total disability, as well as payment of medical expenses.
The Board found that Claimant failed to prove that a work accident or injury occurred as alleged. They rejected the testimony of claimant’s spouse who said he had personally witnessed the alleged accident, citing multiple inconsistencies in the medical records. Specifically, the claimant did not treat for the alleged work injury until several months later in May 2016, and records from that timeframe did not reference any work injury in February 2016. The records in May 2016 only referenced a 2014 work accident, which Claimant’s spouse confirmed was never reported. Claimant’s medical records indicated that she treated for low back pain and similar symptoms only 11 days prior to the alleged work event in February. There was no evidence that these symptoms resolved prior to her alleged February 19, 2016 work accident. There were little to no changes in MRIs done in 2015 versus 2017. Therefore, the Petition was denied, in its entirety.
Should you have any questions concerning this Decision, please contact John Ellis, or any other attorney in our Workers’ Compensation Department.
Freeberry v. Law Firm of Michael Freeberry, IAB Hrg. No. 1447657 (July 31, 2018)
Hot WC News
Office Of Workers’ Compensation Announces New Claimant Petition Requirements
Pursuant to a vote by the Industrial Accident Board at its meeting on July 19, 2018, the Board has amended Board Rule 4 regarding the Statement of Facts filed along with the claimant’s initial Petition to Determine Compensation Due to require the claimant’s signature affirming that the information included is accurate. Until now, the Board Rules permitted the Statement of Facts to be signed by the claimant’s attorney. This change should provide a useful tool at hearing to challenge claimant’s credibility when a claimant has provided inaccurate or incomplete information on the Statement of Fact. The new forms are available for download on the Department of Labor website under Forms & Documents:
If you have any questions regarding the new Board Rule requirements, please contact any of our attorneys in our Workers Compensation Department.
LITIGATION CASE LAW UPDATE
You Can’t Stack This …oh-oh oh oh oh-oh
Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident on April 23, 2011, while driving a vehicle owned by his employer. The vehicle was registered and insured in Georgia through New Hampshire Insurance Company (“NHIC”), but included a Delaware PIP enforcement. NHIC paid Plaintiff $15,000 in PIP benefits under the DE PIP Endorsement. Then, Plaintiff claimed additional PIP benefits from his personal insurer, Liberty Mutual, who denied the claim. Liberty Mutual argued that the insurance policy’s anti-stacking provision prevented Plaintiff from seeking additional PIP benefits because he already received PIP benefits paid under the Delaware Motorist Protection Act (“Act”).
Both parties filed motions for summary judgment. Liberty Mutual claimed that Plaintiff cannot recover PIP benefits from the Liberty Mutual policy because Delaware PIP benefits were available from NHIC. Further, they contended that the PIP benefits were paid under Delaware law because the Act requires vehicles operating in Delaware to have minimum insurance coverage required by the state in which the vehicle is registered or – if that state has no minimum coverage – to have coverage consistent with Delaware’s minimum coverage. Since Georgia does not require minimum PIP, Liberty Mutual asserted NHIC’s policy had Delaware’s minimum coverage in effect. Plaintiff argued that the NHIC benefits were paid under Georgia law because the vehicle was registered in Georgia and insured by a Georgia policy, therefore, NHIC PIP benefits were not paid under the Act and Liberty Mutual’s anti-stacking policy does not apply.
The Court agreed with prior case law that reasoned that a motor vehicle, registered and insured in another state, is not insured under the Act when the state of registration requires PIP coverage and the vehicle’s coverage meets or exceeds that state’s minimum coverage. Since Georgia does not require PIP, Georgia – insured vehicles operating in Delaware are required under Section 2118(b) to carry Delaware’s minimum coverage under the Act. Additionally, NHIC endorsed Delaware’s PIP and paid the Plaintiff in “Delaware PIP” benefits. Therefore, Plaintiff cannot stack PIP benefits from Liberty Mutual to the benefits he received from NHIC because the benefits were required by Section 2118 and, therefore, the anti-stacking provision was triggered. Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment was denied and Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment was granted.
Should you have any questions regarding this decision, or any liability law questions, please contact any attorney in our Liability Law Department.
John Deane v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Com. 2018 Del. Super. LEXIS 343 (Del. Super. Ct. August 10, 2018)
THIS DAY IN LEGAL HISTORY
September 12, 1857
SS Central America Sinks Off Cape Hatteras, NC
The SS Central America, known as the Ship of Gold, was a 280-foot sidewheel steamer ship that operated between Central America and the east coast of the United Sates during the 1850s. The ship sank in a hurricane on September 12, 1857, along with more than 420 passengers and crew and about 14 tons of gold, prospected during the California Gold Rush, and contributing to the Panic of 1857.
On 9 September 1857, the ship was caught up in a category 2 hurricane while off the coast of the Carolinas. By 11 September, the 105 mph winds and heavy seas had shredded her sails, she was taking on water, and her boiler was threatening to fail. A leak in one of the seals between the paddle wheel shafts and the ship’s sides sealed its fate. At noon that day, her boiler could no longer maintain fire. Steam pressure dropped, shutting down both the bilge pumps. Also, the paddle wheels that kept her pointed into the wind failed as the ship settled by the stern. The passengers and crew flew the ship’s flag inverted (a distress sign) to signal a passing ship. No one came. The ship was now on the verge of foundering. Without power, the ship was carried along with the storm and the strong winds would not abate. The next morning, September 12, two ships were spotted, including the brig Marine. Among her passengers, 153 passengers, primarily women and children, made their way over in lifeboats. The ship remained in an area of intense winds and heavy seas that pulled the ship and most of her company away from rescue. The Central America sank at 8:00 that evening.
At the time of her sinking, the SS Central America carried gold then valued at approximately $8,000,000 (modern monetarily equivalent to $292 million, assuming a gold value of $1,000 per troy ounce). The loss shook public confidence in the economy, and contributed to the Panic of 1857.