4/27/2018: Tamara Goorevitz Co-presents Robert T. Franklin Award at DRI Trucking Conference

On Thursday, April 26, Franklin & Prokopik (F&P) principal Tamara Goorevitz co-presented the second Robert T. Franklin Award to Stephen Winborn of  National Interstate Insurance Company at the  DRI Trucking Conference in Chicago, Il.  The Award is named in honor of Bob Franklin, co-founder of F&P and founder of the DRI Trucking Law Committee, who passed away in November of 2013.  The nominations are judged based on commitment to the trucking industry, education of the industry, and loyalty to the industry, aiming to select an individual who is a true champion of the trucking industry, as was Bob.

The 2018 recipient, Stephen Winborn, is the Senior Vice President of Claims and Risk Management for National Interstate, a nationwide premier provider of traditional insurance and innovative alternative risk transfer products.  Steve has been involved in the defense and operation of insurers and transportation companies for over 25 years, and has assumed roles of increasing responsibility throughout his career.

The first Robert T. Franklin Award was received by Judy Burckhalter of Old Dominion Freight Line in 2016 and will be given by DRI’s Trucking Law Committee at their biannual seminars, which will next occur in 2020.

4/9/2018: Bert Randall Speaks at Spring 2018 USLAW Network Client Conference

Franklin & Prokopik principal Bert Randall spoke on April 7, 2018 at USLAW’s annual Spring Network Client Conference. The event was held from April 5 through April 7 at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale Arizona. Bert’s presentation addressed “Understanding and Implementing Strategic Responses to Protecting Medicare’s Future Interest.” Joining him on the panel were Sandra Gravanti, US Security Associates, Todd Kirchner, US Bank Corporation and Thomas S. Thornton, Carr Allison, P.C. Highlights from the presentation include Medicare’s future interest, the impact on claim handling and liability cases and organizational concerns.

USLAW is comprised of 60 international firms focused on civil litigation. This network includes more than 6,000 attorneys spanning the globe with experience in commercial and business law, employment and labor law as well as other business-related fields of law. For more information regarding USLAW Network, Inc., please visit the website at https://web.uslaw.org/.

4/6/2018: VA WCC Denies Slip and Fall Claim Appeal in F&P Case Victory

On April 3, 2018, Franklin & Prokopik attorney Alex Mayfield from the firm’s Herndon, Va. office secured a decision in favor of the Appellee in the case of Debra Levy v. Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.  The case, an appeal from a previously denied workers’ compensation claim, was argued in front of the Court of Appeals of Virginia in Fredericksburg, Va.

Levy, an employee of Wegmans, damaged her knee, which had pre-existing arthritis, in a June 2011 incident where she slipped and fell in the back of the store’s walk-in freezer. This injury required surgery and Levy filed a number of claims related to this injury over a prolonged period of time.  The claim at issue was filed in April 2015, seeking approval of arthroscopic knee surgery, proposed by Levy’s doctor and protective disability claims continuing from January 2015.  In a September 2015 review opinion the full Commission found no indication in her doctor’s records that the claimant’s compensable injury was playing a role in any disability which [Levy] may have had.  Subsequent to this decision, Levy filed a series of new claims predicated on the very same surgical opinion addressed in the full Commission’s September, 2015 decision.  Claimant argued that her new claims were not barred by res judicata because she presented a new theory founded in a compensable consequence claim rather than a direct causal link.

While the claimant styled her filings as “new” claims, a deputy commissioner in May 2016 held that despite how those claims were pleaded, they were indeed barred by res judicata, and the full Commission went on to affirm the ruling.

Levy subsequently appealed the Commission’s decision to the Court of Appeals the following October, bringing forth various arguments as to why her injuries should be fairly categorized as “new”.  The Virginia Court of Appeals rejected her arguments, holding that the right of a party to allege alternative theories was not an invitation to create “new” evidence and “take another swing,” at proving her case.   The Opinion went on to state that Levy had the opportunity to offer evidence of causation for the contemplated surgery at the first hearing, and she chose not to. To reward her with another opportunity to do so would incentivize piecemeal litigation, undermine the finality of judgments, and multiply the number of proceedings – the very evils the doctrine of res judicata was developed to address. Consequently, the Commission’s judgment was affirmed.  This is the first time the Court of Appeals has address res judicata in the workers’ compensation context in several years.