Photo of Marci Hill Jordan

Marci Hill Jordan is an attorney and expert in Workers’ Compensation Law as certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Ms. Jordan is also a member of the firm’s Workers’ Compensation practice in the Marlton office.

On June 2, 2016 I attended an extremely interesting presentation given by the law firm of Costello & Mails about the employer’s duty to provide a safe work place for employees. There are many State and Federal laws that address this issue, as will be explained below. As a workers’ compensation attorney I found the information invaluable since the workers’ compensation statute is a no-fault statute that does not require an employer to maintain any level of safety for workers. The trade-off makes an employee eligible for certain limited benefits regardless of whether the employee or the employer is at fault. An employer at fault for an employee’s injury does not mean that the employee will get any more or any less benefits than an employee who was at fault for his or her own injury at work. The benefits discussed at this recent presentation were over and above any compensation an employee might be entitled to under the workers’ compensation law.

Continue Reading The Employer’s Duty to Provide a Safe Workplace for Employees

Sometimes, injured workers have questions regarding authorized or unauthorized medical care. N.J.S.A. 34:15-15 of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act provides that, “The employer shall furnish to the injured worker such medical, surgical, and other treatment, and hospital service as shall be necessary to cure and relieve the worker of the effects of the injury.” The case of Benson vs. Coca Cola Co. addresses the issue of unauthorized medical care.

In the Benson case, the employee was examined by the workers’ compensation carrier’s physician. The employee subsequently sought out medical treatment from another physician, without the workers’ compensation carrier’s authorization, and then sought reimbursement from the carrier for the medical expenses. The workers’ compensation court found against the employee, holding that N.J. Stat. Ann. § 34:15-15 did not give discretion to the injured employee to seek independent medical assistance, thus the outside medical treatment and hospitalization was unauthorized.


Continue Reading Medical Treatment and Light Duty Issues in Workers’ Compensation Cases

On December 4, 2015, the Appellate Division decided the can of Rose Fonrose Louis v. Burger King Corp, and held that the petitioner’s sole remedy for sexual harassment at work was in the Workers’ Compensation court. The case arose during Petitioner’s employment at Burger King in the Monmouth Mall. During the length of employment, Petitioner was sexually harassed by an assistant manager who made inappropriate sexual advances while they were both in a walk-in freezer. While the harassment was occurring, the store manager opened the door of the walk in freezer, looked at both employees, and closed the door.

Testimony revealed that while the manager had the door open, the assistant manager stopped his harassment. Later the same day, the assistant manager again made inappropriate sexual advances toward the petitioner while both were working. Petitioner did not report the incidents, however the following day her husband called to complain to the manager about how his wife was treated and he also made a visit to the store to follow up. At that time, Burger King had a written policy prohibiting workplace harassment, and that policy had been issued to all employees.

In following and consistent with the harassment policy, the manager reported the incidents to the district manager, who initiated an investigation and transferred the offending assistant manager to another store. Several days later, the petitioner also filed a complaint with the police department, who charged the assistant manager with fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.


Continue Reading Courts Decide Workplace Harassment Civil Suit

A particularly noteworthy case was recently decided by the Appellate Division on November 20, 2015. This case, Colleen Fitzgerald v. Walmart, is so interesting because the Court found that the worker’s injured condition did not qualify as a work related injury simply because she felt a “pop” in her low back while walking at work.

The Petitioner, Colleen Fitzgerald, filed a claim for an accident that occurred on April 26, 2010, while she was working for Walmart. She stated that she was merely walking in the store and felt a “pop” in her low back. While at the time of the claim Ms. Fitzgerald said she felt the pop she was not doing anything other than walking, later testimony revealed that at some time prior to the incident she had been doing some lifting at work in her position as a zone merchandise supervisor.

She reported the accident to her manager, and after seeing her family doctor who diagnosed her with protruding lumbar discs, she took FMLA for 12 weeks and a leave of absence while she received treatment. She did return to work at Walmart for a period of time, however because she then had another non-work related slip and fall accident where she broke her elbow, she was ultimately terminated from her job at Walmart. There was never any authorized treatment provided by the Workers’ Compensation carrier for Walmart.


Continue Reading Appellate Division Upholds Decision in Walmart Workers’ Comp Case

In American Millennium_v. Berganza, the Court examined the case where a drywall subcontractor, Mr. Berganza, obtained workers’ compensation coverage with American Millennium Insurance Company on January 18, 2003, with an effective date of January 19, 2003. On January 21, 2003, Mr. Berganza’s employee, Jose Arias, fell off of a ladder and broke his leg on the work site. The trial judge found that Mr. Berganza reported the accident to the broker three days after the accident, and that on January 29 or 30 American Millennium issued the insurance policy to Mr. Berganza, with an effective date of January 19, 2003.

However, American Millennium refused to provide workers’ compensation coverage for Mr. Arias and filed suit to rescind the policy after a review of their documents revealed that Mr. Berganza made fraudulent statements in the insurance application process. The insurer also claimed that, considering the fact that Mr. Berganza waited three days to report the accident while his application for a back-dated policy was pending, he had committed fraud.

The Appellate Court in New Jersey held that American Millennium could not deny its obligation to the injured employee based on fraud committed by the employer because the workers’ compensation policy was in effect on the date of the injury, and there was no valid cancellation. Case law, as explained in American Millennium, established that a workers’ compensation carrier cannot void a policy in an instance where the application by the employer contained fraudulent statements.


Continue Reading Does Fraud on the Part of the Employer in Obtaining a Workers’ Compensation Policy Affect the Injured Worker?

Many people know who Ralph Nader is as a political activist, but few would know that he recently opened a Tort Museum in Connecticut. “Tort law” is a legal phrase that gets tossed around a lot, but not many people understand what it truly entails. Tort law is the part of our judicial system that governs claims for wrongdoing, whether the wrongdoing is something done by a corporation or an individual. If you are injured by the acts or omissions of big business, or by the negligent driver of a car that ran into you, you have the right to participate in tort law by filing a law suit in the appropriate court.

This summer, Mr. Nader opened a museum in Winsted, Connecticut to address the history of tort law and the important cases where consumers have been helped by someone filing a law suit against “big business.” Recently, he participated in an interview where he stated that the judicial system in the United States is the only part of our government where one individual acting on their own can change the way business is done.


Continue Reading Tort Law and the Judicial System

On August 28, 2015, in the case of Rajpaul v. McDonalds Corp (A-4681-13T4), the Appellate Division reversed the Workers’ Compensation Judge’s order, which had dismissed Mr. Rajpaul’s claim for failure to file a workers’ compensation claim within the two year statute of limitations period. The facts of this case reveal that Mr. Rajpaul worked in maintenance for McDonalds Corporation from 1995 through 2005. Beginning in 1995, he began to experience pain in his shoulders, wrists and elbows. He was seen for shoulder pain at least four times over the years, and in 2001 he was diagnosed with bilateral bicipital tendonitis of the shoulders, which was resolved with treatment. During this time, he never filed a workers’ compensation claim for the tendonitis.

Continue Reading How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for a Work Related Injury?

On June 11, 2015, the Supreme Court of New Jersey reversed the Appellate Division’s decision in the Estate of Myroslava Kotsovska v. Saul Liebman case and held that the trial court was correct in awarding wrongful death benefits to the estate. In this case, Ms. Kotsovska was hired by Saul Liebman’s daughter to provide in home care for her father, who was 89 years old. She agreed to cook meals, do laundry and do light housekeeping in exchange for being paid $100 per day, cash. There was nothing in writing to formalize the agreement between the parties.

On December 8, 2008, Liebman and Kotsovska were running errands and stopped for lunch at a local diner. Liebman was driving. He dropped Kotsovska off on the sidewalk in front of the diner while he pulled into a parking space in front of where she was standing. Liebman accidentally pushed the accelerator, causing the car to pin Kotsovska against a wall. Unfortunately, she died from her injuries.

Ms. Kotsovska’s estate filed a wrongful death suit against Mr. Liebman, but did not file a workers’ compensation claim. Liebman argued that the case should be transferred to the Division of Workers’ Compensation for a determination of Kotsovska’s status as an employee versus an independent contractor. Mr. Liebman’s homeowner’s carrier stipulated that the accident arose from Kotsovska’s employment.


Continue Reading Does the Workers’ Compensation Court have Exclusive Jurisdiction to Decide Issues of Employment?