NY Governor Suspends Statute of Limitations

NY Governor Suspends Statute of Limitations

By John A. Risi. September 2020 – Update As New York State settles into its “new normal,” Governor Cuomo continues to issue executive orders addressing matters from school openings to procedures for public hearings.  His latest Executive Order (EO-260), dated September 4th, 2020, continues the tolling of the Statute of Limitations through October 4th, 2020, with a minor exception lifting the toll relative to the time to challenge the approval by any municipal government or public authority of a construction project that includes either affordable housing or space for use by not-for-profit organizations. July 2020 – Update While all regions of New York State are in different phases of the re-opening process, as new COVID-19 cases largely remain at their lowest levels in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to take a more cautious approach to re-opening, which can be seen in his most recent Executive Order.  The Order (202.48), continues to toll New York’s statute of limitations for the commencement of lawsuits and even the filing of Notices of Claim (a legal pre-requisite to commencing litigation against governmental entities and municipalities) through August 5, 2020. The governor had initially taken this step on March 20, 2020 and signed subsequent orders continuing the toll, including his most recent order of July 6, 2020. Included in the tolling are any specific time limits relating to notices (such as a Notice of Appeal) and motions. PMT will continue to follow important developments such as this most recent Executive Order and keep our valued partners abreast of all matters of significance to our shared business interests as we appreciate the recent...
New York Workers’ Compensation Board Clarifies: Workers Can Receive Compensation Benefits if They Get COVID-19 While Working

New York Workers’ Compensation Board Clarifies: Workers Can Receive Compensation Benefits if They Get COVID-19 While Working

By Thomas M. Bona and Anthony M. Napoli. The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board has issued guidance and clarified that a worker who contracts COVID-19 while working is entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. The Board noted that the claim would be reviewed by the employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier and if the insurance carrier accepts the claim, the COVID-19 claim would be covered and compensable. If the carrier disputes the claim, a judge at the Workers’ Compensation Board will decide whether the claim should be paid. The judge would listen to the testimony of the worker and testimony of the medical provider to decide whether the worker was exposed to COVID-19, the extent of the exposure and whether the exposure to COVID-19 was prevalent in the work environment. The Board noted that most workers will never be able to point to the moment or method of exposure to COVID-19, but workers can demonstrate the significantly elevated risk in their workplace by demonstrating the nature and extent of their work in an environment or where exposure to COVID-19 was prevalent. The Board advised that the issue of causality regarding Workers’ Compensation claims resulting from COVID-19 is of a great importance. Accurate documentation regarding the patient’s work exposure is critical for workers to obtain appropriate benefits. Additionally, the provider’s opinion regarding the likelihood of work-related disease transmission should be included in the medical narrative. If the provider believes that the worker in their medical judgment, is likely to have contracted COVID-19 through a work exposure, it should be reported as such. The Board advised that a medical report from an...
COVID-19 Litigation Concerns Resulting from Businesses Reopening

COVID-19 Litigation Concerns Resulting from Businesses Reopening

By Nicole Duke and Thomas M. Bona. As states begin to reopen, some businesses are choosing to delay opening their doors. Business owners are considering the risk of a wave of lawsuits that may be filed as a result of deciding to begin work. Employers face potential liability not only from employees who may contract COVID-19 on the job, but also from customers who believe they were exposed by employees. As quoted by Todd Maisch, head of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, “[f]or an employer wanting to get back to normal business, this could be the third crisis facing the nation. The first being the health crisis, the second being the economic crisis, the third being years of a liability crisis.”[1] Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are concerning for businesses that are already suffering financially from shutdowns. Though owners are attempting to protect themselves, this is an unprecedented situation that the Courts will have to face, and responses may vary state to state. In April, Georgia was at the forefront of the push to reopen. On April 24, 2020 Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an order reopening certain businesses including hair salons. The salons that have chosen to reopen have set up strict protocols. For example, a single customer may be allowed in a shop at a time and customers must agree to temperature checks before being permitted to enter. Focus on sanitary conditions is even more stringent than usual, and employees and clients must wear masks. Nevertheless, business owners are still concerned with potential litigation if either an employee or customer was to contract the virus. A...
Supreme Court Extends Civil Rights Protections to LGBTQ Workers in Landmark Decision

Supreme Court Extends Civil Rights Protections to LGBTQ Workers in Landmark Decision

By Patrick J. Cosgrove and Lisa M.Grandner. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) is one of the primary federal statutes prohibiting employment discrimination. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and other protected class characteristics. See, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. Under Title VII, it is unlawful for an employer to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his [or her] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”. See, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision extending civil rights protections to LGBTQ individuals. As held by the Court: In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law. Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, — US — (2020). The majority’s decision was written by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, and addressed three (3) separate decisions from Eleventh, Second and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Each decision involved the same question: does Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination because of sex also prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender workers? On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court answered that central question, and held that LGBTQ individuals are entitled to Title VII protections. What does this mean...
PMT Delivers a Win – Aggressive Litigation Rules the Day

PMT Delivers a Win – Aggressive Litigation Rules the Day

Court: Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board Judge: Commissioner James Zurick, Concurred by Commissioners Robert A. Krebs, Sandra D. Crawford, and David Wilderman Case Type: Claim Petition in Philadelphia County, Philadelphia, PA. Caption: Angelina McInnis v. Clinical Care Associates of the Univ. of Pa. Health System Index No.: A19-0851 Decision Date: May 1, 2020 Decision: Appeal Board Affirmed WCJ Decision Denying Claim Petition Claim Petitions are difficult to win in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act is remedial in nature and its purpose is to benefit the employee of the Commonwealth as a fair exchange for the employee relinquishing every other right of action against the employer. Thus, the WCA is to be liberally construed to effectuate its humanitarian objectives, and borderline interpretations are to be construed in the injured party’s favor. In McInnis, the employee filed a Claim Petition alleging a low back injury leading to back surgery arising from a fall on an icy sidewalk while she was waiting for an employer-owned shuttle bus to transport her to her car which was located in a lot used by the other employees. At first glance, one could think that this was a compensable claim since the employee was using an employer-owned shuttle bus to take her to a parking lot used in part by the employer’s employees when commuting to and from work. Investigation uncovered an extensive and active preexisting low back condition where the employee was seeking a pain management doctor a week before her work injury. The employee had several MRI studies before and after the alleged work injury. The employer’s IME physician testified there was no...