September 2023


Delaware WC Training

Maria Paris Newill, partner, has teamed up with the College of Workers’ Comp to create a Delaware Workers’ Comp training available at

This project is a community-driven effort to improve the workers’ comp industry through comprehensive education infused with a whole-person recovery management mindset. They have launched an innovative series of training modules covering the unique aspects of each workers’ compensation jurisdiction in the United States.

For further information about this unique training program and to stay updated as new states are published, please visit

Adjuster Education Credits

Heckler & Frabizzio Partners, Miranda Clifton, and Amy Taylor are hosting a virtual Ethics seminar on January 17th, from 1pm-4pm. This course is approved for three hour Delaware ethics credits.

Additionally, Heckler & Frabizzio Partners, Gregory Skolnik, and Nicholas Bittner are hosting a virtual Workers’ Compensation seminar on February 15th, from 1pm-4pm. This course is approved for three-hour Delaware general credits.

Heckler & Frabizzio is looking forward to continuing to offer free continuing education credits to our clients. We would also like to offer a $5 Wawa gift card to the first person who emails Natalie below with the subject gift card. If you’d like to join us, please email Natalie Bogia, with your National Producer Number (NPN) and Delaware License Number. We hope to see you there!

Keeping Up with H&F

Small Firm

Softball League

Carmella Cinaglia and Michele Subers, Associate Attorneys, Natalie Bogia, Assistant HR Manager, and John Jackson, Paralegal, were active members of the Delaware Lawyer’s Small Firms Softball team this past season. The team achieved an impressive record of eight wins and three losses. Ultimately, they concluded the season during the semi-finals against the DOJ with a score of 12-9 in the 6th inning. The season was undoubtedly a resounding success!


The Battle of the Codes: Workers’ Compensation vs. Pension

The Claimant/Appellant, Barry Mullins, was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2010 and passed away in 2021. Claimant was awarded a disability pension as a result. Claimant’s widow, Melissa Mullins, filed a Petition with the Industrial Accident Board on April 22, 2022, seeking workers’ compensation survivor benefits, based upon the City of Wilmington Pension Code. An Industrial Accident Board Hearing took place on December 8, 2022, where Employer argued benefits paid through the City of Wilmington Pension Code did not constitute or establish liability for Workers’ Compensation benefits relating to an occupational disease. The Board ultimately found the Claimant had failed to prove entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits in relation to his death from ocular melanoma.

The Claimant then appealed this Decision to the Superior Court. It was the Claimant’s position that the City “acknowledged” the claimant’s injury by paying a disability pension to the Claimant’s widow, claiming the presumption of a work-related condition was unrebutted as a result. It was the Employer’s position that the cause of the Claimant’s condition was not related to his employment with the City. The Employer further argued that payment to the Claimant’s widow through the Pension Code is independent from any payment under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The Superior Court agreed with the Board Decision. Establishing causation of a work-related occupational disease requires evidence “the employer’s working conditions produced the ailment as a natural incident of the employee’s occupation in such a manner as to attach to that occupation a hazard distinct from and greater than the hazard attending employment in general.” The Superior Court ruled payments under the Pension Code do not in turn make the City liable for causation under the Workers’ Compensation Act, as a finding of causation requires claimants to meet the burden established in the Act. The Court noted this was consistent with comments made in a prior Board Decision (Armstead v. City of Wilmington, IAB No. 1485578, May 6, 2021), in which the Board noted the standard under the Pension Code does not translate to the causation standard in the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Should you have any questions regarding this decision, please contact Nick Bittner or any other attorney in our Workers’ Compensation Department.

BARRY MULLINS v. CITY OF WILMINGTON, N23A-01-004 CLS (August 18, 2023).


Plaintiff’s Attempt to

Piggyback Claim Fail

The Plaintiff worked for her Employer for approximately five days in March of 2020.  On March 29, 2020, the Plaintiff filed for unemployment insurance, claiming that she was still employed, but working part-time.  She was awarded a weekly benefit of $400.00 for unemployment insurance benefits. While receiving unemployment benefits, the Plaintiff also received $600.00 per week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (“FPUC”).

After awarding the Plaintiff benefits, the Division of Unemployment (“division”) received information from the Plaintiff’s Employer that the Plaintiff incorrectly reported her gross wages from April 4, through May 9, 2020. The Plaintiff reported earnings of $988.00, while her Employer reported gross wages totaling $1,898.20.

A Division Claims Deputy determined that the Plaintiff was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits due to fraud under 19 Del. C. §3314(6).  The Plaintiff appealed the Claims Deputy’s decision. A hearing was held before the Appeals Referee. Following the hearing, the Appeals Referee affirmed the Claims Deputy’s decision. The Plaintiff has 10 days to appeal the decision but failed to do so. Therefore, the disqualification decision became final on March 31, 2022.

Following the determination, the Division initiated administrative proceedings against the Plaintiff to recuperate overpayments under 9 Del. C. §3325. Two overpayment determinations were issued to the Plaintiff, concluding that the Plaintiff was liable to relay $1,700.00 for the unemployment benefits she received and $3,000.00 the FPUC she received. The Plaintiff appealed both determinations.  The Appeals Referee affirmed the Claims Deputy’s decision. The Plaintiff appealed to the Unemployment Board, who affirmed the Appeals Referee decision, finding the Plaintiff had to repay the money.

On October 6, 2022, the Plaintiff filed an appeal to the Superior Court. The Court reviews the Board’s decision for legal error and whether the Board’s decision was supported by substantial evidence, which is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”

The Plaintiff was challenging two issues: (1) the determination to disqualify from benefits based on fraud, and (2) the Board’s determination that the Plaintiff had to repay money.

Regarding the first issue, the Court found that the Plaintiff failed to appeal the Appeals Referee’s decision. The Plaintiff did not explain why she did not appeal. Therefore, the March 31, 2022, decision that the Plaintiff was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits was final and the Court declined to consider the Plaintiff’s argument related to fraud.

As for the second issue on appeal, the Court concluded that the Board’s conclusion to order the Plaintiff to repay money was supported by substantial evidence. The Court found that the Board properly considered the record below, that the Plaintiff received proper notice and the repayment amount was accurate.

Therefore, the Court affirmed the Board’s decision, and the Plaintiff was liable for the overpaid of benefits.

Should you have any questions regarding this decision, or any liability law questions, please contact any attorney in our liability law department.

Queen v. Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board Appeal, 2023 WL 5202633 (Del.Super., 2023)


Cross Claims Survive, Despite Original Complaint Dismissal: Consequences of an Arbitration Agreement

The Superior Court, recognizing that the result “defies logic,” granted defendant Manor Care’s Motion to Dismiss plaintiff’s complaint, while simultaneously denying Manor Care’s Motion to Dismiss co-defendant’s cross claim. This case arose out of a claim for medical malpractice brought by the Estate of Kathleen Antognoli. As part of her admission to Manor Care, Ms. Antognoli executed a Voluntary Arbitration Agreement, whereby both parties agreed to waive the right to trial by jury and instead elected to resolve any disputes exclusively through binding arbitration. The Court found the Arbitration Agreement to be valid and dismissed the Estate’s complaint against Manor Care for lack of subject matter jurisdiction with limited discussion.

However, following the Estate’s filing of its Complaint, both Manor Care and co-defendant had filed cross claims against each other for contribution and indemnification. Manor Care similarly filed a Motion to Dismiss the cross claim, arguing that, because it is no longer a party to the underlying action, the cross claim of co-defendant should not survive. The Court reasoned that Superior Court Civil Rule 13(g) allows a party to file cross claims against “co-parties” and concluded that, when a cross claim was properly filed, “[it] [will] not cease to be so because the party to whom they were addressed subsequently ceased to be a co-party.” Washington House Condo. Assoc.’n of Unit Owners v. Daystar Sills, Inc., 2017 WL 3412079, at *9 (Del. Super. Aug. 8, 2017).

The Court acknowledged that the original Arbitration Agreement was intended to ensure speedy and just resolution, and that allowing one part of a case to proceed in arbitration while allowing the cross claim to proceed through trial could possibly result in a waste of resources, double recovery and/or inconsistent results. However, the Court ultimately concluded that public policy favors contractual arbitration clauses and “[t]he Court is bound by this jurisprudence, even if the result defies logic (as it does here).”

Joseph Antognoli, III, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Kathleen D. Antognoli v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc. and Manor Care – Pike Creek of Wilmington, DE LLC, C.A. No. N21C-01-139 FJJ (Del. Super. Aug. 22, 2023)