My last President’s Message referenced all the attention Workers’ Compensation has received nationally. In it I referenced that various “National Summits” were being scheduled as all the various stakeholders in the system share our concerns regarding the short; mid and long term future of mandatory, state based workers’ compensation, as we know it.
As Prof. John F. Burton, Jr. (Chair of President Nixon’s National Commission in 1972) put it in June of 2015: “…In my view, the state workers’ compensation system is in its most dire situation in at least the last half-century…”

The first of the aforesaid ‘summits’ or ‘national conversations’ took place under the auspices of the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) in Santa Fe on April 26, 2016.

WILG was represented by President-Elect Michael Gruber of New York. As Mike reports: “The conversation then turned to the “Grand Bargain” and whether that bargain has been breached since its inception. The majority of the room opined that the Grand Bargain had been “eroded” or “stretched” but that it was not broken. The entire room agreed they were against increasing Federal involvement in the workers’ compensation system.

When asked to identify the most serious challenges to the workers’ compensation system, the discussion predictably focused on the increasing cost of medical care, in particular the opioid issue, as well as on the growing threat Opt-Out presents to the traditional workers’ compensation systems.”

On May 11 and 12, 2016 past President Chuck Davoli and I were among 40 attendees for a “Workers’ Compensation Summit” initiated by Bob Wilson, a national commentator and Florida ALJ David Langham, held in Dallas. The program was entitled “The Conversation Begins”.

The session began with a review of the Essential Recommendations of the 1972 Commission and a discussion as to whether said recommendations were in whole or in part still relevant. We identified the so called “elephants in the room” or Imperative Issues that have given rise to plans such as Opt Out and the chipping away of the Grand Bargain as evidenced in the constitutional challenges to the inadequacy of benefit levels in many states.

Our group will continue to meet, telephonically, in person and via a listserv exchange over the ensuing months to hopefully come up with a consensus for change while preserving the essential framework of our current workers’ compensation systems.

We all took note of and hopefully will agree with one of the central conclusions of the commissioners in 1972: “…[we] believe in the virtues of a decentralized, State-administrated workmen’s {sic} compensation program [which] can be enhanced by creative Federal assistance.”

The next such ‘summit’ that WILG will attend is scheduled for September sponsored by the Roscoe Pound Civil Justice Institute in Camden New Jersey. Until then WILG will continue to provide its resources to ensure the best outcome for our clients and their families.

Alan S. Pierce

WILG President

Pierce, Pierce & Napolitano

27 Congress Street, Suite 301

Salem, Ma 01970

978-745-0914

apierce@ppnlaw.com


 



The Demise of the Grand Bargain
Compensation for Injured Workers in the 21st Century.

 An Academic Symposium Cosponsored by: Pound Civil Justice Institute. Rutgers Center for Risk & Responsibility, Northeastern University School of Law.
Sept 23, 2016 9AM-4PM Rutgers Law School
Click here for information & to register:http://www.wilg.org/docDownload/710278
 

King of Coal

Coal company CEO's misdemeanor conviction after a disaster that killed 29 miners is a "perversion of justice," says victim's sister

IAIABC Forward: Understanding the Opt Out Alternative

Maxwell v. Sprint Smith v. Baze


Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Commission finding the Oklahoma Employee Injury Benefit Act unconstitutional and unenforceable.  Click for more information.
 


What Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital Means for Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Laws

 

In 1911, the U.S. created the first state-based workers’ compensation laws as a legislative solution between labor and management. In this “grand bargain,” employers provide compensation to employees injured on the job and in exchange employees don’t sue the employers for negligence. The current case of Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital questions whether Florida’s compensation laws still provide adequate remuneration to injured workers. What could this case really mean for Florida’s state legislature?

In this episode of Workers Comp Matters, Alan Pierce interviews Mark Zientz, claimants’ attorney for Stahl v. Hialeah, about the history of state workers’ compensation laws, legislative changes made in the 1970s, and the potential ramifications of three Florida cases pending at the appellate level. Together, they discuss contributory negligence vs. comparative negligence states and the creation of an OSHA commission to study the adequacy of workers’ compensation laws in the 1970s. Pierce and Zientz then move on to current cases in Florida, including Westphal v. St. Petersburg, Castellanos v. Next Door Company, and Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital. These cases question whether the compensation system is still an adequate replacement for the tort system which it supplanted. In other words, is workers’ compensation in Florida no longer constitutional?

 

WILG 20th Anniversary Video

 

WILG Testimonial Videos

Over the past decade, states have slashed workers’ compensation benefits, denying injured workers help when they need it most and shifting the costs of workplace accidents to taxpayers.
Part 1 of ProPublica Article Here
Part 2 - How Much Is Your Arm Worth
Part 3 - Injured Workers Share Stories of Harm
 

On Tuesday, 5/5, the Illinois House convened a committee of the whole for a hearing on work comp. An injured worker from Oklahoma, who was featured in a previous ProPublica piece, provided testimony. Here's an article in response to the hearing:

http://www.propublica.org/article/injured-worker-propublica-npr-story-testifies-before-illinois-legislature


Dr. Joel Morton's WorkCompWire Article

Every day brings another headline about a fatal overdose on painkillers, a celebrity who’s hooked, or a serious crime driven by addiction. Sadly, injured workers are among those addicted. Since 1990, opioid overdose deaths have tripled. It’s easy to blame doctors who prescribe painkillers, but only 17 percent of abused opioids are abused by legitimate patients with legitimate prescriptions. Physicians are doing their best, trying to treat pain without withholding needed medications, but that only helps so much.

Dr. Joel Morton of Summit Pharmacy takes a closer look at the issue and in the following article discusses a few policy changes that could go a long way to stem opioid abuse:

 

Let's Stop Inviting Opioid Addiction


2015-16 Leaders


President
Alan S. Pierce
Salem, MA

President- Elect
Michael Gruber
Brooklyn, NY


Treasurer
Amie Peters
Edmonds, WA


Secretary
Thomas Holder
Atlanta, GA

Immediate Past President
Matthew J. Belcher
Chicago, IL