Widow fails to prove exposure to asbestos caused welder's lung cancer
Case name: General Electric Co., 109 NYWCLR 76 (N.Y. W.C.B. Panel 2009).
Ruling: A New York Workers' Compensation Board panel affirmed the workers' compensation law judge's decision disallowing a widow's claim that the development of her husband's lung cancer, and his subsequent death, were causally related to his exposure to asbestos at work.
What it means:
Expert testimony indicating that the decedent showed no signs of asbestosis, and the treating oncologist's testimony that he had no evidence that the decedent's lung cancer was caused by asbestos, constitutes sufficient support for a WCLJ's decision disallowing a workers' compensation claim.
A widow's claim that the development of her husband's lung cancer, and his subsequent death, were causally related to his exposure to asbestos at work was denied. The decedent reported to his treating oncologist that he was exposed to asbestos while working as a welder and that he smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 45 years. He worked for the employer for almost 40 years. The oncologist testified that he had no evidence that the decedent's lung cancer was caused by asbestos. The widow's medical expert stated that the decedent's exposure to asbestos played a significant part in his development of lung cancer. However, the medical expert conceded that the decedent's smoking history, "without anything else," was sufficient to cause his lung cancer. The carrier's medical specialist indicated that because the decedent showed no signs of asbestosis, his development of lung cancer was unlikely to be related to his employment. Upon reviewing the record and considering the testimony and evidence, the panel found sufficient evidence supporting the WCLJ's decision.
July 2, 2009
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