Sunday, November 20, 2011

Decisions of interest concerning Labor and Employment Law
Source: Justia November 18, 2011

Court: U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 10-2488
November 16, 2011
Judge: Torruella
Areas of Law: Labor & Employment Law
Plaintiff brought suit under the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185, claiming that her employer violated the collective bargaining agreement when it reclassified a position for which she was hired, resulting in her subsequent removal from that position, and that the union violated its duty of fair representation in colluding with the employer to reclassify her position and in refusing to take her filed grievance to arbitration. The district court granted summary judgment to the employer and the union. The First Circuit affirmed. Plaintiff did not produce evidence that her employer breached the CBA when it reclassified her position from permanent to temporary before her actual start date and, therefore, did not establish that her termination amounted to a breach.
http://j.st/GB9



Court: U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 10-36184
November 17, 2011
Judge: Burns
Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Injury Law, Labor & Employment Law
Plaintiff filed a Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA), 5 U.S.C. 8131, 8132, claim after he was injured in a helicopter crash and received benefits totaling $409,838.11. Plaintiff then filed a civil suit against the helicopter operator and eventually the lawsuit settled for $2.3 million. At issue was whether plaintiff could deduct his litigation costs from a refund to the United States under FECA. The court held that no reading of section 8132 allowed for a FECA beneficiary to obtain a civil award and then deduct the costs of obtaining that award from a refund of benefits owed to the United States. The only plausible reading of section 8132 was to the contrary: A beneficiary could deduct his litigation costs only from his gross recovery to determine the amount, if any, of the surplus he must credit to the United States for future benefits.




Court: U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 10-2128
November 14, 2011
Judge: Hartz
Areas of Law: Business Law, Injury Law, Insurance Law, Labor & Employment Law
Plaintiff John Ensey was employed by both Defendant Ozzie’s Pipeline Padder, Inc. (Ozzie’s) and Rockford Corporation when he was severely injured. He sued Ozzie’s but was denied relief on the ground that Ozzie’s was protected by the exclusive-remedy provision of the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act. Plaintiff appealed, contending that Ozzie’s could not invoke the exclusivity provision because it failed to show that it contributed to paying for the workers’ compensation policy obtained by co-employer Rockford. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit concluded that under New Mexico law Ozzie’s was protected by the exclusivity provision because its contract with Rockford required Rockford to obtain workers’ compensation insurance for Plaintiff, and Plaintiff failed to produce evidence to overcome the inference that Ozzie’s therefore contributed to paying the insurance premium. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court's judgment that denied him relief.




Court: U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 09-12266
November 17, 2011
Judge: Tjoflat
Areas of Law: Labor & Employment Law, Legal Ethics
Plaintiff sued his former employer for unpaid overtime and back wages pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., its implementing regulations, and Florida law for unpaid overtime and back wages. Plaintiff subsequently appealed the grant of summary judgment to the employer on plaintiff's FLSA claim and dismissal of his state law claim without prejudice, contending that material issues of fact precluded judgment and, alternatively, that, had the district court not limited his discovery as it did, he would have uncovered evidence that would have created material issues of fact. Plaintiff also appealed the district court's sanctions order against his attorney. Having found no error in the district court's discovery decisions, imposition of sanctions, or its order granting summary judgment in favor of the employer, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.




Court: Connecticut Supreme Court
Docket: SC18202
November 22, 2011
Judge: Palmer
Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Injury Law, Labor & Employment Law
After Employee was diagnosed with hypertension, Employee filed a notice of claim for hypertension benefits under Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-433c(a). The workers' compensation commissioner dismissed Employee's claim as untimely under the one year limitation period of Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-294c(a), finding that Employee had notice of his hypertension more than one year before he filed his claim for benefits. The compensation review board affirmed. At issue on appeal was whether advice from a medical professional to Employee that he had an elevated blood pressure triggered the one year limitation period. While Employee's appeal was pending, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Ciarlelli v. Hamden, which held that the one year limitation period set forth in section 31-294c(a) for claims brought pursuant to section 7-433c does not commence until an employee is informed by a medical professional that he or she has been diagnosed with hypertension. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the board applied an incorrect legal standard in upholding the commissioner's dismissal of Employee's claim.




Court: Connecticut Supreme Court
Docket: SC18203
November 22, 2011
Judge: Per Curiam
Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Injury Law, Labor & Employment Law
After Employee received numerous elevated blood pressure readings and was prescribed hypertension medication, Employee filed a notice of claim for hypertension benefits. The workers' compensation commissioner (1) found that a physician informed Employee more than one year prior to filing his claim that he had hypertension, and (2) concluded that, because Employee's claim was filed more than one year after that date, his claim was untimely under Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-294c(a). The compensation review board affirmed. While Employee's appeal was pending, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Ciarlelli v. Hamden, in which it held that the one year limitation period set forth in section 31-294c(a) for claims for hypertension benefits does not commence until an employee is informed by a medical professional that he or she has been diagnosed with hypertension. At issue on appeal was whether the time limitation period was triggered only after Employee's physician prescribed medication for his condition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Employee was, in fact, diagnosed with hypertension more than one year before he filed his claim, the board properly upheld the commissioner's dismissal of Employee's claim for benefits.




Court: New York Court of Appeals
Docket: 202
November 15, 2011
Judge: Ciparick
Areas of Law: Insurance Law, Labor & Employment Law
In this dispute between an employee and his employer and its workers' compensation insurance carrier, the court was asked to interpret Workers' Compensation Law 27(2) and 15(3)(w) amended by the Laws of 2007, as they related to an award for a non-scheduled permanent partial disability made after the effective date for an injury sustained years earlier. The court concluded that the Workers' Compensation Board and the Appellate Division properly construed the amended statute by requiring the carrier to deposit a lump-sum amount into the Aggregate Trust Fund representing the present value of the award. Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division was affirmed.




Court: New York Court of Appeals
Docket: 191
November 17, 2011
Judge: Pigott
Areas of Law: Arbitration & Mediation, Contracts, Labor & Employment Law
This case stemmed from a dispute over the arbitration of a collective bargaining agreement that contained a no-layoff clause. The court held that because the clause was not explicit, unambiguous and comprehensive, there was nothing for the Union to grieve or for an arbitrator to decide. Having concluded that the dispute was not arbitrable for reasons of public policy, the court need not reach the issue of whether the parties agreed to arbitrate. Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division was reversed and the Village's application to stay the arbitration was granted.




Court: New York Court of Appeals
Docket: 196, 195
November 17, 2011
Judge: Pigott
Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law
Petitioners brought these Article 78 proceedings to challenge, among other things, their placement on involuntary leave without having been provided a hearing pursuant to Civil Service Law 72. At issue was whether Civil Service Law 72, which provided certain procedural safeguards to a public employee when placed on an involuntary leave of absence, applied to employees who were prevented from returning to work following a voluntary absence. The court held that it did and the order of the Appellate Division was reversed and the judgment of Supreme Court reinstated.




Court: Tennessee Supreme Court
Docket: M2011-00096-WC-R3-WC
November 15, 2011
Judge: Lee
Areas of Law: Injury Law, Labor & Employment Law
Employee was allegedly injured during the course and scope of his employment. Employee and Employer unsuccessfully attempted to settle Employee's worker's compensation claim at a Benefit Review Conference (BRC) held on October 11, 2010. An impasse was declared at 10:27:19 a.m. Employee's complaint was filed in the chancery court at 10:27 a.m. Employer's complaint was filed in the chancery court at 10:28 a.m. Employee filed a motion to dismiss Employer's complaint based on the doctrine of prior suit pending. The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the trial court's finding that Employee's suit was filed after the impasse report was issued, and therefore, under the doctrine of prior suit pending, Employer's suit was barred.




Court: West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
Docket: 101486
November 10, 2011
Judge: McHugh
Areas of Law: Business Law, Labor & Employment Law
This matter involved two actions consolidated by the circuit court for appeal purposes concerning the application of the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act (WPCA). Appellants, two employees whose positions were eliminated as a result of their employer's merger with United Bank, appealed circuit court orders granting summary judgment to Appellee, United Bank, and dismissing their claims for liquidated damages based on the provisions of the WPCA regarding late payment of compensation due at termination. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the lower court did not err in categorizing the termination of employment of either Appellant as a lay-off rather than discharge and in thus finding Appellants were fully compensated for all pay due within the prescribed statutory period.

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