Kasic v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 94 A.D.3d 1349 (N.Y. App. Div. 2012)

Facts:

Plaintiff, Silvia Kasic, filed a workers’ compensation death benefits claim after the death of her husband, Stephen Kasic.

Procedural History:

The Workers’ Compensation Law Judge found for the Plaintiff. Defendant appealed and the Workers’ Compensation Board reversed. Plaintiff appealed the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Issue:

Is a party time barred from receiving workers’ compensation death benefits if they file a claim more than two years after the employee’s death but less than two years after they find out the cause of the employees death?

Holding:

No, a party is not time barred from workers’ compensation death benefits if they file within two years of determining the cause of death.

Reasoning:

The court held that in order to receive workers’ compensation death benefits due to an occupational disease, a claim must be filed within two years of disablement and after the claimant knew or should have known that the disease is or was due to the nature of the employment.

While the decedent and his wife had a suspicion that the exposure to chemicals on the job had given him leukemia, this suspicion was not enough to establish that the Plaintiff knew or had reason to know that exposer to chemicals at work caused the death. Further, Defendant’s argument that the decedent did not get sick from the chemicals undercut the idea that the decedent or his wife knew or should have known the chemicals were making him sick.

Once the Plaintiff received the report from the doctor indicating her husband had died from exposure to Defendant’s chemicals, the clock on her claim began to run. Since Plaintiff filed a claim before this two year period was up she is not time barred from receiving workers’ compensation death benefits.

Judgment:

Reversed and Remanded.

 

 

By: James Baez

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