Articles Posted in Estate Planning

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Appellant Louise Shorter Barzey challenged the constitutionality of certain provisions in the Workers' Compensation Act that precluded her, as a non-dependent parent, from recovering benefits for the death of her son, Deron Shorter, from his employer, the City of Cuthbert. Shorter was killed in 2010 while acting in the course of his employment with the City. He was 37 at the time of his death, was not married, and had no dependents. His mother Barzey was his only heir at law. After Shorter's death, Barzey filed a lawsuit against the City, seeking a judgment declaring that she has the right to sue the City. Barzey acknowledged that the Workers' Compensation Act provided the exclusive remedy of an employee's heirs for the employee's death during the course of his employment. She also acknowledged that the Act expressly said that the compensation for a deceased employee "shall be payable only to dependents and only during dependency." After its review, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the Act's limitation on the recovery of nondependent heirs did not violate Barzey's constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. View "Barzey v. City of Cuthbert" on Justia Law

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The Alaska Workers' Compensation Board denied a death benefit claim filed by the decedent's same-sex partner because the death benefit statute grants benefits only to a worker’s "widow or widower" as defined by statute. The Board construed these terms by applying the Marriage Amendment to the Alaska Constitution, which defined marriage as "only between one man and one woman," thus excluding a decedent's same-sex partner. Because this exclusion lacked a fair and substantial relationship to the purpose of the statute, the Supreme Court concluded that this restriction on the statutory definition of "widow" violated the surviving partner's right to equal protection under the law. View "Harris v. Millennium Hotel" on Justia Law

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Defendant-appellant-cross-appellee R.T. Vanderbilt Company, Inc. appealed a Superior Court judgment on a jury verdict of $2,864,583.33 plus interest to Plaintiff-appellees-cross-appellant Darcel Galliher, individually and on behalf of the Estate of Michael Galliher. The decedent, Michael Galliher, contracted and died from mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos or asbestiform material while employed by Borg Warner at a bathroom fixtures facility. Vanderbilt provided industrial talc to Borg Warner, which was alleged to be the source of the substance that caused Michael's illness. At trial, Vanderbilt denied causation and claimed that Borg Warner was responsible because it did not operate the facility in a manner that was safe for employees like Michael. Vanderbilt argued: (1) the trial court erred when it failed to instruct the jury on the duty of care required of Borg Warner, as Michael's employer; and (2) the trial court erred when it failed to grant a new trial based on the admission of unreliable and inflammatory evidence that previously was ruled inadmissible. Galliher argued on cross-appeal that the trial court erred as a matter of law when it disallowed post-judgment interest for a certain period of months. The Supreme Court found that the trial court erred when it failed to provide any instruction to the jury on Borg Warner's duty of care to Michael, despite Vanderbilt's request that it do so. The trial court also abused its discretion when it denied Vanderbilt's motion for a new trial based upon the substantial prejudice resulting from the admission of evidence, not subject to cross-examination, that it had engaged in criminal conduct. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment and remanded for a new trial. View "R.T. Vanderbilt Company, Inc., v. Galliher, et al." on Justia Law