Estate of Kotsovska v. Liebman
_____ N.J. _____ (2015)
Decided June 11, 2015
The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Appellate Division after concluding that the claims of workers injured on the job need not always be heard in the Division of Workers' Compensation. The Supreme Court held that where there is a genuine dispute regarding employment status and the plaintiff files a complaint only in the NJ Superior Court Law Division, the Superior Court can hear the case as a tort matter and resolve the dispute under its concurrent jurisdiction.
Stancil v. ACE USA
211 N.J. 276 (2012)
Decided August 1, 2012
The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of the Appellate Division and Superior Court in holding that an injured employee does not have a common-law right to sue a workers' compensation insurance carrier for pain and suffering caused by a carrier's delay in paying for or authorizing medical treatment, prescriptions and other services. The remedies provided by the Workers' Compensation Act constitute the exclusive remedy available to deal with noncompliance by a carrier with an order of the compensation court awarding such benefits.
Van Dunk v. Reckson Associates Realty Corp
210 N.J. 449 (2012)
Decided June 26, 2012
Applying the two-step analysis set forth in Millison v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 101 N.J. 161 (1985), the New Jersey Supreme Court concluded that the plaintiff failed to prove his employer's conduct rose to the level of an intentional wrong creating a substantial certainty of bodily injury or death. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Division and found that the statutory bar against common-law torts (N.J.S.A. 34:15-8) applied to preclude this civil action.
Morella v. Grand Union/New Jersey Self-Insures Guaranty Association
193 N.J. 350 (2008)
Decided January 30, 2008
The New Jersey Self-Insurers Guaranty Association argued that: (1) the Division of Workers’ Compensation did not have jurisdiction to decide whether the Association improperly denied payment of petitioner’s compensation benefits under N.J.S.A. 34:15-120.18a; and (2) the petitioner, whose injury occurred before her self-insured employer’s insolvency, was required to file a proof of claim in her employer’s bankruptcy proceeding before she qualified for workers’ compensation benefits under N.J.S.A. 34:15-120.18a. However, the Appellate Division disagreed, concluding that: (1) the Division clearly has jurisdiction to decide this issue under N.J.S.A. 34:15-49; and (2) the statutory requirement of filing such proof of claim applies only to claimants injured after the employer’s insolvency and does not apply to claimants injured before the insolvency occurred. The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed substantially for the reasons expressed by the Appellate Division.
Crippen v. Central Jersey Concrete Pipe Company
176 N.J. 397(2003)
Decided May 22, 2003
The Court found that it is a jury question to determine if the employer in this case who deceived OSHA and failed to cure hazardous conditions in violation of OSHA standards could be sued by the dependents of a worker killed on the job in the Superior Court for intentional injury. The two prong test for overcoming the workers’ compensation bar to a civil suit was first, whether the employer’s conduct was such that the employer knew that its actions were substantially certain to cause injury or death and second, whether the injury situation was beyond that expected in a work environment that would immunize an employer from an intentional tort action.
Tomeo v. Thomas Whitesell Construction Company
176 N.J. 366 (2003)
Decided May 22, 2003
The Court found that an employer’s deactivation of a safety lever on a snow blower was not an intentional wrong which would allow an employee who assisted in snow removal to file a Superior Court action. Since the snow blower was a consumer product rather than industrial equipment and had warnings which the injured worker did not follow, the Court found that workers’ compensation was the exclusive remedy for the injuries. Justices Albin and Zazzali dissented.
Mull v. Zeta Consumer Products
176 N.J. 385 (2003)
Decided May 22, 2003
The Court allowed the employee in this case to continue her Superior Court action for intentional injury where she alleged that the employer disengaged a safety device knowing of its dangerous consequences, that OSHA had cited the employer for the equipment and that another employee had previously been injured.
Williams v. Port Authority of NY and NJ
175 N.J. 82 (2003)
Decided January 14, 2003
The Supreme Court, in reversing the decision of the Appellate Division and the workers' compensation judge, found that petitioner's four (4) months of employment in New Jersey during his 28 year career with the Port Authority was insufficient to satisfy the injury requirement for the exercise of jurisdiction by the New Jersey workers' compensation court in an occupational disease claim. In reviewing the facts of the case, the court specifically recognized that petitioner's brief exposure in New Jersey cannot be said to materially contribute to his pulmonary disability which was diagnosed 20 years after his New Jersey exposure had ended such that any disability petitioner suffered in New Jersey was minor and not compensable. A separate dissenting opinion was also filed.
Laidlow v. Hariton Machinery Company, Inc.
170 N.J. 602 (2002)
Decided February 25, 2002
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Appellate Division and remanded the case to the trial court to determine if the plaintiff met the Court's standards for establishing an intentional tort.
NJ Superior Court – Appellate Division
Estate of Kotsovska v. Liebman
433 N.J. Super. 537 (App. Div. 2013)
Decided December 26, 2013
Defendant appealed final judgment and jury verdict in favor of plaintiff in wrongful death action, contending decedent was his employee and thus the Workers' Compensation Act's exclusivity bar (N.J.S.A. 34:15-8) prohibited the estate from maintaining this action in civil court. The Appellate Division reversed the judgment of liability because the jury was improperly instructed on the question of employment relationship and remanded the matter to the Division of Workers’ Compensation for its determination of whether decedent was defendant's employee or an independent contractor. The Division of Workers’ Compensation was also directed to afterward transfer the case back to the civil court so it could either reinstate judgment in favor of the estate or dismiss the matter based on the Division's determination.
Sentinel Insurance Company, LTD. v. Earthworks Landscape Construction, L.L.C.
421 N.J. Super. 480 (App. Div. 2011)
Decided August 16, 2011
The Appellate Division reviewed and clarified the Williams – Sherwood ancillary jurisdiction doctrine (discussed in Larson’s treatise) as it applies to the question of whether the NJ Division of Workers’ Compensation can exercise concurrent jurisdiction over a carrier’s motion for a declaratory judgment seeking rescission on the basis of a fraud alleged to have been committed by the petitioner in his role as a member of the respondent L.L.C. The appellate panel decided that the Division is an appropriate forum for litigation of this fraud defense along with hearing the underlying compensation claim and upheld the Law Division order transferring the case to the Division for such proceedings.
Stancil v. ACE USA
418 N.J. Super. 79 (App. Div. 2011)
Decided February 1, 2011
After exhausting administrative remedies in the compensation court, the petitioner filed a complaint in the Superior Court seeking damages for a carrier’s willful noncompliance with an order of the workers’ compensation court. The Law Division judge, however, dismissed that complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Afterward, the Appellate Division affirmed, holding that the remedies currently contained in the Workers’ Compensation Act and related Division regulations constitute the exclusive remedy available to an aggrieved petitioner arising out of willful noncompliance by an employer or its insurer with an order of the compensation court.
* Click here for the Supreme Court decision
International Schools Services, Inc. v. NJ Dept. of Labor & Workforce Dev.
408 N.J. Super. 198 (App. Div. 2009)
Decided July 10, 2009
The Appellate Division reversed and remanded the declaratory judgment of the Superior Court judge who held that the petitioner must obtain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for its overseas employees despite the fact that they work entirely overseas and never work in New Jersey. The Appellate court directed the trial court to expand the factual record and apply a Connolly/Larson analysis to determine whether the overseas employees had sufficient contacts with New Jersey to justify application of New Jersey’s workers’ compensation coverage laws.
Frappier v. Eastern Logistics, Inc.
400 N.J. Super. 410 (App. Div. 2008)
Decided May 30, 2008
The Appellate Division reversed the decision of the workers’ compensation judge and held that it is improper for a court to issue an interlocutory order estopping a carrier from denying insurance coverage without first addressing: (1) the validity of the carrier’s claim that it actually did reserve its right to disclaim coverage when it filed an answer that raised defenses against the claim petition; and/or (2) whether the petitioner was an employee of respondent (i.e., the carrier’s client).
Flick v. PMA Ins. Co. and Kathleen Reed, Ind.
394 N.J. Super. 605 (App. Div. 2007)
Decided July 17, 2007
The Appellate Division affirmed the decision of the Superior Court judge and held that the plaintiff, who alleged that the mechanisms available in the Division of Workers’ Compensation for enforcing its orders are inadequate, was barred by N.J.S.A. 34:15-8 from pursuing a civil action against the defendants until after he exhausted the panoply of administrative remedies available to him in the Division.
Kibler v. Roxbury Bd. of Educ.
392 N.J. Super. 45 (App. Div. 2007)
Decided April 11, 2007
The Appellate Division affirmed the decision of the Superior Court trial judge and held that the plaintiff, who was injured at work as a result of an altercation between two students, was barred from pursuing a civil action for damages as to these defendants. The appellate court held that the facts alleged in the plaintiff’s complaint failed to raise any genuine issue of material fact as to whether her injuries came within the purview of conditions the New Jersey Legislature intended to exempt from the exclusive remedy provisions of Workers’ Compensation Act. Accordingly, the plaintiff’s exclusive remedy was held to remain with the Division of Workers’ Compensation for her work-related accident.
Fisher v. Sears, Roebuck & Co.
363 N.J. Super. 457 (App. Div. 2003)
Decided October 27, 2003
The Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal of a wrongful death action brought by the estate of a Sears employee killed by armed robbers while transferring money in the parking lot of a Sears complex, holding that such action was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of N.J.S.A. 34:15-8. The court also found that this case did not fall under the “intentional wrong” exception to the exclusive remedy rule because Sears’ conduct in violation of its own security procedures did not amount to an “intentional wrong” when Sears was not substantially certain its conduct would cause the accident and when the decedent’s injury did not differ from the kind of work-related injury the workers’ compensation statute was intended to cover.
George Adams v. The New York Giants
362 N.J. Super. 101 (App. Div. 2003)
Decided July 3, 2003
In reviewing the jurisdictional time requirements for filing a workers’ compensation claim and the Supreme Court’s decision in Brunell v. Wildwood Crest Police Dept., 176 N.J. 225 (2003), the Appellate Division affirmed the workers’ compensation judge’s finding that petitioner’s injuries while a professional football player were the result of a specific accident. Specifically, the court held that while petitioner did not appreciate the severity of his injuries following a 1986 Giants training camp incident, the 1996 filing for workers’ compensation was not timely.
Bey v. Truss Systems, Inc.
360 N.J. Super. 324 (App. Div. 2003)
Decided May 23, 2003
The appellate court affirmed the decision of the workers’ compensation judge that petitioner’s application to reopen his case was time barred since his request was more than two years from the date the last payment on the award was delivered to his residence. Petitioner’s claim that the time limit extended to the date he cashed the check was denied.
Division Reserved Decisions
Cape Regional Medical Ctr. v. Cast and Crew Payroll, LLC
12-28812; decided on April 3, 2014 by Honorable Ingrid L. French, J.W.C.
New Jersey medical provider filed this claim seeking review of a bill payment made by a workers' compensation carrier in accordance with Pennsylvania cost containment laws because the injured workers claim was filed and litigated in Pennsylvania. The respondent disputed the medical provider's right to adjudicate this issue in New Jersey and filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction. The Judge of Compensation, after careful consideration of the applicable New Jersey statutes and regulations, found that New Jersey did not have jurisdiction over this claim because there was no proof of an underlying accident that was compensable under New Jersey's Worker's Compensation Act.
Progressive Spine & Orthopedics v. Krasdale Foods, Inc.
14-183; decided May 21, 2014 by the Honorable Jill M. Fader, J.W.C.
Petitioner filed a medical provider claim arising from treatment given to an injured worker in New Jersey where that worker had already filed his compensation claim and received benefits in New York, Respondent filed a motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds. The Judge of Compensation found that there were insufficient contacts to establish jurisdiction in New Jersey over the petitioner's claim because the work accident occurred in New York, the worker was hired and did all his work there, and the respondent was localized there as well. The mere fact that the worker lived in New Jersey was an insufficient basis for New Jersey jurisdiction. The claim was accordingly dismissed.
Spiros v. Atlantic Ambulatory Anesthesia Assocs. & Shrewsbury Surgical Center
12–22032; 13-1069 decided October 27, 2014 by the Honorable Leslie A. Berich
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.
Pulejo v. Middlesex County Consumer Affairs
10-10115; decided February 11, 2015 by the Honorable Russell Wojtenko, J.W.C.
Petitioner's occupational claim alleged heavy, continual exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke from co-workers over the course of many years. After a highly detailed examination of the evidence, the judge found that the petitioner proved all the elements of a compensable claim. However, the judge was compelled to dismiss the claim with prejudice for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:15-34 because the petitioner failed to file his claim until many years had passed after the date he knew the nature of his disability and its relation to his employment.
Lattoz v. N.J. Turnpike Authority
08-31179 decided March 26, 2012 by the Honorable Kenneth A. Kovalcik, J.W.C
Petitioner filed an occupational injury claim in which he alleged injury to both knees/legs. However, the judge found that the Division of Workers' Compensation lacked jurisdiction over the claim under N.J.S.A. 34:15-34 because the petitioner failed to file this claim within two years of the date on which he first knew the nature of his disability and its relation to his employment with the respondent.
Wirkijowksi v. U.S. Pack Courier Service Corp
08-30878; 27756 decided October 12, 2011 by the Honorable Diana Ferriero, S.J.W.C
The petitioner's claim raised three issues in addition to compensability: jurisdiction, employee status and insurance coverage. The judge of compensation found that New Jersey had jurisdiction over the claim, petitioner was an employee of U.S. Pack, and this respondent's insurance carrier was obligated to provide coverage for the workers' compensation benefits due petitioner.
Grouzalis v. Port Auth. of NY & NJ
01-40384 decided April 14, 2008 by the Honorable Philip A. Tornetta, J.W.C.
Petitioner’s dependency claim asserted New Jersey jurisdiction based on the fact that her husband died as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attack when he was a long-time resident of New Jersey, employee of a bi-state New Jersey-New York agency, and subject to being directed to report for work at a location in New Jersey as necessary (rather than to his usual New York worksite). The Judge of Compensation, however, concluded that the petitioner failed to prove that her deceased husband had any significant employment contacts with New Jersey or performed more than merely casual work in New Jersey.
Perez v. Abraczinskas Nurseries, Inc.
01-37560; decided November 4, 2005 by the Honorable Richard E. Hickey, III, J.W.C.
This dependency claim was based on an accidental death which occurred while decedent was working for this Pennsylvania-based respondent. The Workers’ Compensation Judge determined that New Jersey did not have jurisdiction since the: (1) accident occurred outside New Jersey, (2) decedent was hired outside New Jersey, and (3) respondent did not have sufficient contacts with New Jersey.
Combs v. Bradlees, Inc.
01-1404 decided on February 18, 2005 by the Honorable Renee C. Ricciardelli, J.W.C.
The NJ Self-Insurers Guarantee Fund argued that the NJ Division of Workers’ Compensation did not have jurisdiction to decide whether the Fund became responsible for paying the remainder of petitioner’s workers’ compensation benefits owed by the self-insured respondent, Bradlees, after Bradlees became insolvent. The Fund argued against such responsibility because the petitioner had received notice of the Bradlees bankruptcy, thereby became an enumerated creditor, and did not timely object to Bradlees estimate of its debt to her being $0.00. The compensation judge, however, rejected the Fund’s arguments. She found that: (1) under the provisions of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act, the Division clearly has jurisdiction to decide this issue; and (2) pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:15-120.18, the Fund was responsible for paying benefits owed the petitioner when Bradlees became insolvent.
Grebowicz v. All American Roofing (decision 1, decision 2)
98-22505 decided on March 2, 2004 by the Honorable Renee C. Ricciardelli, J.W.C.
Respondent moved to have the judge of compensation reconsider a decision entered in January of 2001 in which she found the respondent liable under N.J.S.A. 34:15-79 for workers’ compensation benefits due to the petitioner. Within that decision the judge found that the respondent: (1) was a Delaware roofing contractor that employed the New Jersey subcontractor for whom the petitioner worked; and (2) had sufficient minimal contacts with the State of New Jersey to justify the Court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction. Based on a “governmental-interest analysis”, the judge also found that New Jersey’s interests in this matter were greater than those of Delaware. After a factual hearing during which testimony was taken from the respondent and petitioner, the judge denied respondent’s motion because none of the evidence presented at the hearing moved the judge toward being convinced that her original decision should be amended.
In re AIG (UJEX, AJEX, et al.)
Numerous claim petitions involved; decided July 25, 2003 by the Honorable Richard E. Hickey, III, J.W.C.
Insurance carrier moved for a stay of all cases already filed with the Division involving certain insureds, pending the outcome of the carrier’s request that a federal court declare all the workers’ compensation insurance policies it issued to these insureds to be void ab initio. Among other things, the carrier alleged in its federal civil action that the insureds obtained the policies based on misrepresentation. The judge denied the stay because the carrier failed to prove a stay was justified and the Division had jurisdiction to decide whether these workers’ compensation policies were legally effective or cancelled on the dates giving rise to the workers’ compensation claims.
Domenici v. Lackawack, Inc.
00-13289, decided February 25, 2002, by the Honorable Neale F. Hooley, J.W.C.
The workers’ compensation judge found that petitioner was not barred from filing a claim petition more than two years after petitioner’s work-related accident, because petitioner received medical treatment from respondent’s authorized provide within the two-year statutory requirement and respondent failed to notify petitioner of it’s decision to de-authorize medical treatment.
Kreis v. Hajdu Construction, Inc.
97-12427, 96-31650, decided January 26, 2001 by the Honorable Elaine B. Goldsmith, J.W.C.
The petitioner had a prior admitted accident, but never filed a claim petition until three years later, after he was injured again. The workers’ compensation judge dismissed the claim petition for the first accident as barred by the statute of limitations because two years had passed since the original injury and the last authorized treatment.
Mitchell v. Celodon Trucking Co.
99-32748, decided November 3, 2000 by the Honorable Fred H. Kumpf, J.W.C.
Even though respondent had no place of business in New Jersey, the Judge of Compensation found jurisdiction since respondent had several other contacts with New Jersey and actively recruited the petitioner and other employees in New Jersey.
Lylo v. General Motors Corporation
99-28937, decided July 19, 2000 by the Honorable Neale F. Hooley, J.W.C.
Petitioner did not report an accident until two weeks after he was diagnosed with a hernia. The workers’ compensation judge held that petitioner satisfied the 48 hour notice requirement in hernia cases (N.J.S.A. 34:15-12.23) since he reported the injury within that time period after the hernia was diagnosed.
Peck v. Newark Morning Ledger
97-014020, 97-014033 decided March 13, 2000 by the Honorable Peter Calderone, J.W.C.
The respondent riled a motion to dismiss petitioner’s claim petition alleging occupational disease for lack of jurisdiction. The workers’ compensation judge denied respondent’s motion to dismiss, finding that respondent’s waiver of workers’ compensation forms employees were required to sign did not remove the petitioner’s claim from the jurisdiction of the workers’ compensation court.
Ryan v. Trump Taj Mahal
97-029407, 98-031877, 98-031917, decided February 22, 2000 by the Honorable Shelley B. Lashman, J.W.C.
The petitioner alleged various injuries over the course of her employment. The workers’ compensation judge dismissed petitioner’s claim with prejudice because the respondent did not receive notice.
Scott v. Covenant Transport, Inc.
98-10966, decided November 10, 1999 by the Honorable Anthony J. Minniti, J.W.C.
The petitioner, an employee of the respondent, who is based in Tennessee, was injured in a work-related accident in Minnesota. The workers compensation judge held that since respondent had a storage depot that petitioner sometimes worked at in New Jersey and that respondent advertised for employees in New Jersey, that the court had jurisdiction over the compensation claim.
Williams v. North Princeton Development Center
96-6215, decided October, 1999 by the Honorable Paul A. Kapalko, J.W.C.
The petitioner filed an occupational disease claim petition, alleging exposure to cleaning fumes, six years after she retired. In finding that petitioner suffered from a compensable occupational disease, the workers compensation judge held that petitioner was not barred by the statute of limitations since she was not aware of her permanent disability until many years after her retirement.
Saracine v. Aramark
98-13530, decided August 10, 1999 by the Honorable Shelley B. Lashman, J.W.C.
The petitioner, a resident of New Jersey, was injured in Pennsylvania while working for respondent, a Pennsylvania corporation. After receiving compensation under Pennsylvania law, petitioner filed workers’ compensation claim in New Jersey seeking additional benefits. The workers’ compensation judge dismissed petitioner’s claim, finding no jurisdiction since the only contact petitioner had with New Jersey was a New Jersey residence.
Nuneville v. Viking Yacht Company
98-13530, decided August 9, 1999 by the Honorable Shelley B. Lashman, J.W.C.
The petitioner filed a claim petition within two years after respondent made its last payment for authorized treatment but more then two years from the last treatment. The workers compensation judge granted respondent’s motion to dismiss, finding that petitioner should have filed within two years of the last treatment.