Speculative link between mold, carpenter's death topples claim
Rosner Construction LLC and State Insurance Fund, 110 NYWCLR 101 (N.Y.W.C.B. 2010).
Ruling: The New York Workers' Compensation Board denied benefits for a claim arising out of the death of a carpenter, who allegedly died from mold exposure at work.
What it means:
Under some circumstances, the contraction of an infectious disease can be an accidental injury within the meaning of New York's workers' compensation law. However, where the evidence establishes that the decedent's death was caused by a common mold found in most places, including the home environment, and there is no definitive evidence of exactly when and where the mold entered the decedent's body, a connection to the workplace is purely speculative.
Summary: The full board denied benefits for a claim arising out of the death of a carpenter, a recent recipient of a kidney transplant with a suppressed immune system, who allegedly died due to exposure to mold at work, which caused lung and kidney infections and ultimately resulted in fatal septicemia. The board explained that the decedent's death was not the result of an occupational disease within the meaning of the WCL, as there was no evidence of a connection between his infections and his work as a carpenter. Aspergillus is a common mold found in most places, including the home environment, and can enter the human body through inhalation. As there was no definitive evidence of where the exposure occurred, the conclusion that the work environment caused the carpenter's death was speculative.
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August 19, 2010
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