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Death Claim Denied

State: NY

 

Widow Failed to Tie Husband's Death to His Employment:

 

The widow of a morbidly obese truck driver with a history of heart problems was not entitled to workers' compensation benefits because she failed to prove his death was related to his employment, a New York appellate panel ruled.

 

Case: Bailey v. Bingham Precast & Supply Corp., No. 514295, 02/21/2013, published.

 

Facts: Sandra Bailey's husband worked as a truck driver and heavy equipment mechanic for the Bingham Precast & Supply Corp. He had a heart condition before he started working for Bingham and was also morbidly obese. Doctors had diagnosed him with cardiac arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

 

Bailey's husband underwent a heart catheterization in November 2007, and doctors noted he had diffused coronary disease.

 

Nine days after Bailey's husband returned to work, he worked his normal shift and then remained at Bingham's facility to perform some repairs on his personal vehicle. A Bingham plant manager later found Bailey's husband unresponsive on the ground. Doctors pronounced him dead that evening.

 

Bailey filed a claim for workers' compensation death benefits, which Bingham contested.

 

Procedural History: A workers' compensation law judge disallowed Bailey's claim, and the Workers' Compensation Board affirmed.

 

Analysis: The Appellate Division's 3rd Department agreed with the board's finding that Bailey's husband was not in the course of his employment at the time of his death.

 

Although Bailey said her husband had called her and said he was staying late to "clean the pit," the court noted there was nothing in Bingham's records to suggest that Bailey's husband had worked an extra shift or overtime on the date of his death, or that Bailey's husband was actually performing work for the employer at the time of his death.

 

The court also said that Bailey failed to carry her burden of proving a causal connection between her husband's death and his employment.

 

While the doctors who treated Bailey's husband opined that it was "extremely likely" that the "heavy work" Bailey's husband performed on the day of his death contributed to his death, the court pointed out that the doctors' opinions were based on the assumption that Bailey's husband had worked a double shift and was engaged in strenuous physical activity on the day of his death. Since the

documentary evidence and hearing testimony did not support the premise on which the doctors had based their opinions, the court said the opinions could not link Bailey's husband's death to his employment.

 

Disposition: Affirmed.

 

To read the decision, click here.

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