Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Worker's Compensation claim denied for attorney allegedly killed by job stress

This case presents a sad intersection of employment law and the stress of the profession. The Commonwealth Court issued its opinion, affirming denial of WC benefits, in Touchstone v. WCAB. The decedent, a worker's comp attorney himself, allegedly "suffered a fatal heart attack and . . . psychosocial stress related to his work as a workers’ compensation attorney representing claimants, namely significant financial strain, was a substantial, contributing factor in his death."

The decedent passed away in the middle of the night after retreating to his home office to continue working. Some of the expert testimony undercut the theory that job stress caused his death though. The worker's comp judge (WCJ) held that "the Claimant did not meet her burden of establishing that psychosocial stress, specifically, financial strain, was a substantial contributing factor in Decedent’s death."

The Commonwealth Court reviews such decisions under a deferential standard, and will only reverse if there was a "capricious disregard of the evidence." The Claimant could not meet that standard here, so the claim remains denied. A sad story regardless of the outcome of the case. 

No comments:

Post a Comment