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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted discretionary review to address two issues associated with workers’ compensation claims by firefighters suffering from cancer. First, the Court had to determine the evidentiary requirements for a claimant to demonstrate that he or she has an “occupational disease,” as that term is defined in Section 108(r) of the Workers’ Compensation Act (the “Act”). Second, the Court had to decide whether epidemiological evidence may be used by an employer to rebut the evidentiary presumption that the claimant’s cancer is compensable as set forth in Section 301(f) of the Act. With respect to the first issue, the Supreme Court concluded that pursuant to Section 108(r), the claimant has an initial burden to establish that his or her cancer is a type of cancer that is capable of being caused by exposure to a known IARC Group 1 carcinogen. With respect to the second, the Court concluded that epidemiological evidence was not sufficient to rebut the evidentiary presumption under Section 301(f). View "City of Phila. FD v. WCAB; Appeal of: Sladek, S." on Justia Law

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After correcting one aspect of the judgment, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting Defendants’ motions to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint stemming from a hospital’s decision not to employ her, holding that the superior court correctly granted the hospital's and a physician's separate motions to dismiss the complaint for failure to state claims upon which relief could be granted because some counts failed due to the absolute immunity provisions of the Maine Health Security Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 24, 2501-2988, and other counts were legally insufficient. Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint against a physician and a hospital, asserting various claims. The superior court dismissed the counts against the physician, determining he was entitled to immunity pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 24, 2511, and dismissed the claims against the hospital for failure to state claims upon which relief could be granted. On appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the superior court correctly dismissed all claims against the physician because he was immune from civil liability, but the judgment dismissing the claims against the physician for defamation, slander per se, and negligent infliction of emotional distress was corrected as dismissals with prejudice. View "Argereow v. Weisberg" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of the termination of petitioner James Cole by the New Hampshire Department of Information Technology (DOIT). One of Cole’s initial assignments was overhauling an Account Security Form (ASF). This was intended to be a short-term project. Although some aspects of Cole’s work on this project were satisfactory, his incorrect processing of other aspects of the overhaul resulted in audits being conducted on the forms to ensure accuracy. Cole was also initially assigned a “Wireless Access Point” Project (WAP). This project required communication with customers who were requesting installation of a WAP, and coordination with the persons who were to install the WAPs. However, Cole’s communications were inadequate. This resulted in customers not knowing how to use the WAPs after they were installed, or even that the WAPs had been installed. Cole was given three warnings over the course of his employment. The New Hampshire Personnel Appeals Board (PAB) upheld Cole’s termination. On appeal, Cole argued his termination did not comply with New Hampshire Administrative Rules, Per 1002.08 because he did not receive the three letters in accordance with New Hampshire Administrative Rules, Per 1002.04 for the same or substantially similar conduct or offense. DOIT argued the New Hampshire Supreme Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to decide this case, and, in the alternative, that Cole’s termination complied with Per 1002.08 and Per 1002.04. Finding that it had jurisdiction, the Supreme Court affirmed the PAB’s decision. View "Appeal of James Cole" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court in part ruling in favor of Putnam Investments, LLC and other fiduciaries of Putnam’s defined-contribution 401(k) retirement plan on Plaintiffs’ lawsuit claiming that Defendants breached fiduciary duties to the plan's participants, clarifying several principles for the district court that should guide its subsequent rulings on remand. Plaintiffs, two former Putnam employees who participated in the Plan, brought this lawsuit on behalf of a now-certified class of other participants in the Plan and on behalf of the Plan itself pursuant to the civil enforcement provision of ERISA, see 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(2), arguing that Defendants offered a range of mutual investments, including Putnam’s mutual funds, without regard to whether such funds were prudent investment options and that Defendants treated Plan participants worse than other investors in Putnam mutual funds. The district court ruled in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ prohibited transaction claim under 1106(a)(1)(C), breach of loyalty claim, and disgorgement claim; (2) vacated the court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ prohibited transaction claim under 1106(b)(3) and the finding that Plaintiffs failed as a matter of law to show loss; and (3) remanded for further proceedings. View "Brotherston v. Putnam Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Stryker in an action filed by plaintiff, a former employee, alleging a claim of retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court, giving plaintiff as the non-moving party the benefit of conflicts in the evidence and any reasonable inferences in her favor, held that there was a genuine issue of material fact about the reason Stryker fired her. In this case, a reasonable jury could interpret the suspicious timing of her firing as evidence that one or both decision‐makers initially found plaintiff's actions in the Vail incident to be tolerable, and that they decided only later, after she had filed her internal complaint, to use that incident as a pretext to fire her for retaliatory reasons. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Donley v. Stryker Corporation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Ira Martel appealed the trial court’s decision granting summary judgment on his personal injury claims in favor of his employer, defendant Connor Contracting, Inc., and two co-employees, defendants Jason Clark and Stephen Connor. This case was about two separate exceptions to the exclusivity rule of workers’ compensation, the first of which applied when an employee is injured other than by accident, and the second of which applied when a person or entity could be held personally liable for an employee’s injuries. In August 2013, plaintiff was part of a four-person crew employed by Connor Contracting to perform roof repair work at the Montpelier Health Center. Defendant Jason Clark was the worksite foreperson, and defendant Stephen Connor was the treasurer of Connor Contracting and one of the company owners. While working on the project, plaintiff and the other members of the roofing crew used a personal-fall-arrest system (PFAS), which was safety equipment provided by Connor Contracting and required by the company’s safety program rules, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA). Plaintiff was completing the soffit work when he fell from the edge of the roof, hit the ground below, and was injured. He was not wearing a PFAS at the time he fell. The parties disputed whether a complete PFAS system was still at the project site on that day and available for plaintiff’s use. Connor Contracting disputes the removal of the PFAS and states that defendant Clark left two harnesses and lanyards at the project site. The Vermont Supreme Court held plaintiff’s action against Connor Contracting was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of Vermont’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Furthermore, plaintiff’s action against the individual defendants is barred because the acts that plaintiff alleges give rise to liability fell within the scope of a nondelegable corporate duty and defendants, therefore, cannot be held personally liable for plaintiff’s injuries. View "Martel v. Connor Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Stephen Elliott on his suit against American Capital Energy, Inc. (ACE) and its two principals (collectively, Appellants) claiming breach of contract and violations of the Massachusetts Wage Act, holding that Ellicott’s compensation constituted “wages” under the Wage Act and that the statute of limitations for his Wage Act claim was properly tolled. Elliott filed suit against Appellants seeking compensation for unpaid sales commissions. The jury found all three Appellants liable under the Wage Act and ACE liable for breach of contract. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the jury could reasonably conclude that Ellicott’s sales commissions constituted wages under the Wage Act; (2) tolling the statute of limitations so as to allow Ellicott’s Wage Act claims against one of the principals was justified; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Ellicott’s motions in limine excluding evidence about whether Elliott had agreed to split his sales commissions. View "Ellicott v. American Capital Energy, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, Pearson, alleging claims of Title VII sex discrimination and other claims, after she allegedly did not get the same chance to resign with severance pay that three male employees received. Plaintiff also claimed that Pearson lost a key email exchange. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's overruling of plaintiff's objection about the emails and the district court's cure -- barring plaintiff from disputing her description of the emails but declining to grant further sanctions -- was sufficient. The court also affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the severance-pay discrimination claim where the three proposed comparators were not similarly situated to plaintiff. The court held that there was no evidence of pretext and the misstatement of the standard of review was harmless because the court's review was de novo. View "Barbera v. Pearson Education, Inc." on Justia Law

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The employer sought review by the federal district court and obtained a judicial order vacating an award on the ground that the arbitrator improperly applied external law to contradict the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The Seventh Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court and upheld the arbitrator's award, holding that the text of the CBA permitted the arbitrator to look to external law in interpreting the agreement. The court held that the language contained in the preamble of the CBA suspended any part of the CBA that either the company or union believed to conflict with state law. In this case, while the court would have preferred that the arbitrator cite to that language before applying the Concealed Carry Act to reinstate the employee, the extraordinarily deferential standard of review compelled the court to uphold the award. View "Ameren Illinois Co. v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant in an action alleging that plaintiff's injuries were caused by defendant's negligence in driving a tractor trailer truck. The court held that the workers' compensation benefits plaintiff received were his exclusive remedy against defendant. In this case, defendant and plaintiff entered into an employment relationship in which Swift and Johnson were joint employers mutually liable under Iowa law to provide plaintiff workers' compensation benefits when he suffered a work-related injury, an obligation Swift has fully performed. View "Quiles v. Johnson" on Justia Law