South Carolina—Exclusive Remedy and the Statute of Repose
On November 13, 2018, in a case of first impression, the federal District Court of South Carolina, in Matthews v. E.I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co., held that workers compensation exclusive remedy barred a civil lawsuit against the former employer of a deceased worker, who contracted lung cancer from workplace asbestos exposure approximately 40 years earlier. The court found that, even though the worker and his estate were not entitled to workers compensation benefits because a petition for benefits was not filed within the statutory required two-years from last exposure (the statute of repose), claims for compensation for such injuries are still governed by the workers compensation act and its exclusive remedy provisions.
This decision could be appealed. NCCI will monitor for further developments and any potential impact on the workers compensation system.
Iowa—Compensability of Idiopathic Injuries
On November 16, 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court, in
Bluml v. Dee Jay’s Inc., ruled that eligibility for workers compensation benefits for a worker who suffered serious head injuries as a result of a seizure—which caused him to fall on a level floor at work—is a factual question and not a legal question to determine if the “condition of employment increased the risk of injury.” In its decision, the court clarified previous precedent regarding compensability for idiopathic injuries resulting from risks that are personal to a worker. The court held that there is no blanket rule in Iowa that idiopathic injuries in the workplace are not compensable under workers compensation.
NCCI will monitor any potential impact on the workers compensation system.
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