Cruz v. Central Jersey Landscaping, Inc.
195 N.J. 33 (2007)
Decided June 9, 2008
The New Jersey Supreme court, in reversing the Appellate Division, held that the 2004 amendment to N.J.S.A. 34:15-13 which sets dependency benefits at a uniform 70% of the decedent’s wages for one or more dependents is to be applied prospectively to cover only those claims where the worker’s death was on or after January 14, 2004.
Kibble v. Weeks Dredging & Construction Co. ,
161 N.J. 178 (1999)
Decided March 30, 2000
The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the decision of the Appellate Division and found that acceptance of a Section 20 (N.J.S.A. 35:15-20) settlement by petitioner alone does not bar dependents from filing a claim after the death of the petitioner. The Court determined that a dependent must knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waive his or her right to future dependency claim at the time the Section 20 settlement is entered for such a waiver to be effective.
NJ Superior Court – Appellate Division
Harrison v. A & J Friedman Supply Co.
372 N.J. Super. 326 (App. Div. 2004)
Decided October 12, 2004
The Appellate Division reversed the decision of the workers’ compensation judge to summarily deny a commutation of dependency benefits the petitioner was receiving as a result of her husband’s work-related death in 1992. The Appellate Division held that the absolute bar created by N.J.A.C. 12:235-6.3(d) against commutations in particular cases is invalid since N.J.S.A. 34:15-25 allows a judge the discretion to grant commutations of compensation payments in appropriate circumstances, without completely barring such awards in dependency situations. Remanded for hearings on the application for commutation.
Division Reserved Decisions
Karak v. E.I. DuPont
95-14893, decided February 16, 2006 by the Honorable Richard E. Hickey, III, J.W.C. On remand, the sole issue before the judge was whether three co-employees of the petitioner’s deceased husband committed medical malpractice in the course of their work for the DuPont Employee Assistance Program (EAP). After weighing expert opinions and the medical evidence, the judge found that the death of the petitioner’s husband was not the result of a deviation from the appropriate standard of medical care by the DuPont EAP staff.
Stark v. XFL
01-30300, 02-18670; 22899; 35572 decided July 23, 2004 by the Hon. Cosmo A. Giovinazzi, III, J.W.C.
The issue was whether the January 14, 2004 amendments to N.J.S.A. 34:15-13 applied retroactively to this dependency case or should be applied prospectively to only those dependency claims that accrued on or after the effective date of the statutory amendments. As amended, this statute now provides that, in compensable death cases, benefits are computed based on 70% of wages for one or more dependents (whereas before the amendment, benefits were computed at 70% of wages only where there were five or more dependents surviving the deceased employee). After comparing the wording of proposed bills with the wording of the legislation finally enacted, the judge concluded that the Legislature intended that the amendments to Section 13 be applied retroactively to dependency cases pending on the date of enactment, as well as to dependency claims accruing on or after the date of enactment.
Ciriello v. Babcock and Wilcox
01-15035, decided June 4, 2003 by the Honorable Arnold B. Goldman, J.W.C.
Dependency claim by widow asserted that petitioner’s death was due in part to complications arising from an existing work-related pulmonary condition. However, the judge found that this condition was not a material cause of the petitioner’s death, accepting respondent’s medical expert as more credible than petitioner’s treating doctor in identifying the causal factors that led to the petitioner’s death. The claim was dismissed with prejudice.
Lemmon v. Exxon Company U.S.A.
98-14498, 98-14506, decided April 22, 2002 by the Honorable Joshua Friedman, J.W.C.
In this lifetime and dependency case there had been a prior award to the deceased petitioner for pulmonary asbestosis. In finding that the prior award established asbestos exposure and that decedent’s lung cancer was related to that exposure, the workers’ compensation judge awarded both lifetime and dependency benefits.
Johnson v. Griffin Pipe
93-861, decided September 17, 2001 by the Honorable Matthew W. Parks, J.W.C.
Through a widow’s testimony of her husband’s daily return from work with dust over his clothing and a medical expert’s ability to link dust exposure to pulmonary disease and death, dependency benefits awarded.
Govern v. Harris Structural Steel
94-33446, decided June 27, 2000 by the Honorable Lawrence G. Moncher, J.W.C.
Petitioner sought dependency benefits as a result of her husband’s death from lung cancer. The workers’ compensation judge dismissed the claim finding that petitioner had not met her burden to show that the substances which she claimed decedent was exposed to were a known or suspected cause of cancer.
Travisco / Westcott v. Middlesex County Department of Human Services
96-47075, 96-47106, decided June 9, 2000 by the Honorable Neale F. Hooley, J.W.C.
In this dependency case, the record established that the decedent submitted to a physical examination in the course of his employment during which a chest x-ray indicated a “spot” that was later diagnosed as a cancerous growth. Since respondent failed to inform the decedent of the growth, the judge found that the dependent and a compensable claim and awarded dependency benefits.