Case name: Kominsky v. Kominsky and Co., No. A-2535-09T2 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 05/04/11, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division denied benefits to an accountant for his heart disease.
What it means:
In New Jersey, a worker arguing that stress caused his heart problems must show the disease was due in a material degree to causes arising from the workplace and are characteristic of his particular trade, occupation, process, or place of employment.
Summary: An accountant suffered from heart problems resulting in numerous surgeries. He previously suffered a heart attack after running a 10-kilometer race. The accountant regularly worked 50 hours a week and 100 hours a week during tax season. The company was retained by new, larger clients, and the accountant also managed the office. When the accountant began to have angina attacks almost on a daily basis, his cardiologist told him he only had two years to live if he didn't quit working because his work was killing him. The accountant sold his practice, but his health continued to deteriorate. He sought workers' compensation benefits and benefits from the second injury fund. The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division held that the accountant was not entitled to benefits.
The accountant's cardiologist testified that there was a direct relationship between the accountant's stress from his work and his heart disease. He also opined that people with Type A personalities, such as the accountant, are predisposed to more heart problems. The count pointed out that the cardiologist did not produce scientific studies to support his claim. The cardiologist also acknowledged that the accountant had a family history of heart disease and did not dispute the progressive nature of the condition.
The court found an internist's opinion more persuasive. The internist opined that the accountant's disability was due to the progressively worsening cardiac condition. The internist also pointed out that the accountant's condition worsened after he left work, contrary to what one would expect if stress was playing a major role in the progression of his disease.
The court also denied benefits from the second injury fund. The court said that his total disability was not the result of a preexisting condition in conjunction with the subsequent work-related events.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 16, 2011
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