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Notable Win: Donald Servais v. Ocean Wholesale Nursery, LLC

Client: Ocean Wholesale Nursery as insured by Farm Family and third party was ESIS

Court: Appellate Division

Trial Attorney: John H. Geaney, Esq.

Brief Attorney: John H. Geaney, Esq. and former Capehart Scatchard attorney, Dana M. Gayeski, Esq., of counsel, on the briefs.

John H. Geaney, Esq. argued the appeal.

**Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances**

This case involved a dispute about an Employment Separation Agreement and whether that agreement could have been construed to constitute a payment of workers’ compensation benefits, thereby tolling the statute of limitations. Our office represented Farm Family Insurance and ESIS.

Petitioner, hired as a consultant by respondent, Ocean Wholesale Nursery, LLC, suffered an amputation of three fingers of his right hand in January 2016. Believing the injury occurred at petitioner’s home, respondent paid no workers’ compensation benefits. Petitioner, however, believed that during his five years working with respondent their relationship had changed to that of an employee and filed a formal claim petition in October 2018.

Respondent filed a motion to dismiss under the two year statute of limitations. The motion was countered by an argument that an Employee Separation Agreement signed in January 2017 which paid petitioner $5,000 to resolve the business relationship was ambiguous and could have led petitioner to believe that the payment was in part for the loss of his fingers.

The parties agreed to try the issue of the statute of limitations separately and then reserve for a later trial all other issues, such as compensability and employment.

Upon hearing testimony and reviewing the terms of the Employment Separation Agreement, the Judge of Compensation concluded that the Separation Agreement included any and all claims, including the loss of fingers.  The judge also found that petitioner was an employee and was injured during the course of employment, although the judge previously agreed that these issues would be held for a later hearing.  Finally, the judge apportioned $1,000 of the $5,000 paid under the Separation Agreement to the petitioner’s injury to his fingers.

Farm Family appealed the decision to the Appellate Division, which reversed in favor of Farm Family and vacated the substantial award to petitioner.  The Appellate Division held that the Separation Agreement was not ambiguous and was not a payment of workers’ compensation benefits.

Read more about this matter by clicking here.

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Capehart Scatchard Supports Kids’ Chance Of New Jersey

Photo L to R: John H. Geaney, Esq. and Alejandra Soto.

Attorneys from Capehart Scatchard’s Workers’ Compensation Department recently attended the Eighth Annual Gala for Kids’ Chance of New Jersey.  The event was held on July 21, 2022 at the Hilton in East Brunswick, N.J.

The Gala was a fundraiser for Kids’ Chance, a non-profit organization, created to provide educational opportunities and scholarships for the children of workers who were fatally or catastrophically injured on the job.  John Geaney and Lora Northen, shareholders in the firm, serve as members of the Kids’ Chance Board of Directors, and Director of Marketing, Carol Wright, serves as an Advisory Board member.

The highlight of this year’s Gala featured the presentation of scholarships to eleven students whose parents suffered fatal or physically catastrophic injuries while working.  Each student was awarded up to $10,000 for the upcoming school year.  Capehart Scatchard sponsored the $10,000 scholarship given to Alejandra Soto whose father lost an eye and suffered other injuries in a work-related accident in 2006.  Ms. Soto is a junior at Rutgers Newark School of Criminal Justice.

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Notable Win: Donna Marter v. Freehold Regional Board of Education

Client: Freehold Regional Board of Education/PMA

Court: Workers’ Compensation

Trial Attorney:  Christina M. Adinolfi Shea, Esq.

Brief Attorney: Michael P. McCaffrey, Esq.

**Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances**

Petitioner filed a Motion seeking an Order that respondent be barred from asserting its Section 40 lien rights arising from the settlement in the third party action.

Petitioner’s Motion requested an Order that respondent not be entitled to recover its statutorily provided lien.  More specifically, it requested no workers’ compensation lien be asserted on the $13,000.00 settlement proceeds in the third party action, and instead those proceeds be used to cover the costs and counsel fee incurred in the third party matter.

The Motion essentially argued that since petitioner’s attorney expended so much in costs in litigating the third party action, it would be unfair for respondent to recover the lien it is entitled to under N.J.S.A. 34:15-40.

Subsection (e) of N.J.S.A. 34:15-40 provides that for purposes of Section 40, “ ‘expenses of suit’ shall mean such expenses, but not in excess of $750, and ‘attorney’s fee’ shall mean such fee, but not in excess of 33 1/3 % of that part of the sum paid in release.”

Respondent asserted the language of the statute is clear that in terms of calculating the lien, a maximum of $750.00 is to be deducted for costs in the third party matter.  The fact that the costs in the third party matter far exceed $750.00 has no bearing on respondent’s Section 40 lien rights and does not change the operation of N.J.S.A. 34:15-40.

Moreover, while petitioner’s Motion suggested she will be unfairly deprived of compensation if respondent recoups its Section 40 lien, the Motion ignored the fact that respondent already paid out $49,710.18 in medical and temporary benefits and $18,375.01 in permanency benefits pursuant to the original Order Approving Settlement.

Respondent maintained it is entitled to recover the full Section 40 lien amount of $7,916.67; there is no basis to set aside or compromise the lien.

The Judge of Compensation agreed and, in ruling for the respondent, he ordered the petitioner to send the respondent a check for the total remaining lien due.

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Capehart Scatchard Hosts First Year Law Students

PHOTO L to R: Dylan Brown; Rhasheda Douglas, Assistant Dean Rutgers Law School; Sandra Khalil; Erika Vasant; Jonathan Dodo; Lauren Ramos; Kate Isidro; Victoria Adeleke; Jasmyn Montgomery; Bruce Fluellen; Alexis McDonough; Angela Reading; Sanu Dev; Maura Burk; Stacey Gorin; Becky Batista

Capehart Scatchard hosted a panel discussion and luncheon on June 28, 2022 at its Mount Laurel office for first year law students from Rutgers Law School in Camden.  The students are part of the Rutgers Minority Student Program (MSP).  MSP serves Rutgers Law School students who are members of groups that are underrepresented in the legal profession.

Capehart Scatchard attorneys, Maura Burk, Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Stacey Gorin, Mary Ellen Rose, and Lauren Tedesco, and summer law clerks, Becky Batista, Angela Reading, and Erika Vasant served as panelists participating in a discussion on law careers in private practice.  The panelists shared insights about law school, judicial clerkships, and legal practice areas.  The event was hosted by Capehart Scatchard’s Diversity & Inclusion committee, which Ms. Dev leads.

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Capehart Scatchard Attorneys Take Part In Panel Discussion on LGBTQ Legislation

Capehart Scatchard attorneys, Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev and Marie Michel, participated in a remote CLE entitled “Why Say Gay: A Look at Dangerous Trending Legislation.”  The CLE, held on June 23, 2022, was sponsored by the Burlington County Bar Association’s Diversity, Inclusion & Leadership Committee.  Ms. Dev is Co-Chair of the Committee.

Ms. Dev served as moderator for the panel discussion and Ms. Michel served as a panelist. The participants addressed anti-gay/anti-trans legislation throughout the country. Topics discussed included the cultural history of resistance and impact on intersex children, legislation passed in New Jersey on LGBTQ curriculum in public schools, rights of transgender students v. rights of teachers, and best practices approach for practitioners to discuss with clients.

Ms. Dev, a shareholder in the School Law Department, concentrates her practice on school law and labor and employment law.  She is experienced in representing, advising, and defending boards of education and charter schools in all areas of school law including: labor and employment, special education, Section 504, student discipline and civil rights.  Ms. Dev is the Chair of the Firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which seeks to facilitate the Firm’s efforts to achieve and maintain a diverse and inclusive workplace at every level of our organization.   Upon graduation from Rutgers Law School, she worked as a law clerk to the Honorable Ronald E. Bookbinder, A.J.S.C. (ret.) in Burlington County.

Ms. Michel, an associate in the Workers’ Compensation Department, received her law degree from Rutgers Law School, Camden and a B.S. degree in Marketing and a B.A. degree in Communication Studies from The College of New Jersey.  Upon law school graduation, she worked as a law clerk in Burlington County for the Honorable Sander D. Friedman, J.S.C. and as a recall law clerk to the Honorable John E. Harrington, J.S.C. (Ret./Rec.) and the Honorable Ronald E. Bookbinder, A.J.S.C. (Ret./Rec.).  She is admitted to practice law in New Jersey.

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Nicholas Dibble Addresses Regional Conference Of Rehabilitation Professionals

PHOTO: L to R: Drew Barton, Twin Boro Physical Therapy; Nicholas Dibble, Capehart Scatchard; Robert Killea, Senior VP of Business Development at Twin Boro.

Capehart Scatchard Shareholder, Nicholas Dibble, Esq., spoke at the 22nd Annual New Jersey International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (NJ-IARP) Conference held at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, NJ on June 16, 2022.  The NJ-IARP Conference is the largest Nurse Case Management Conference in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Mr. Dibble and Drew Barton, PT, DPT of Twin Boro Physical Therapy, spoke at a seminar titled, “Unlocking the Secrets of the FCE.”  The presentation on functional capacity evaluations (FCEs) included a discussion on maximum medical improvement, rules on light duty and transitional duty, legal issues in return to work determinations, and traps to avoid in making termination decisions following FCEs.

Mr. Dibble represents insurance carriers and employers in the defense of workers’ compensation claims at all stages of litigation. He received his law degree from Rutgers Law School in Camden and his B.A. degree in Political Science from Haverford College. Upon law school graduation, Mr. Dibble worked as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Benjamin C. Telsey, Superior Court of New Jersey, in Bridgeton, NJ.

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Associate Attorney Joins Workers’ Compensation Department

Capehart Scatchard is pleased to announce that Morgan L. Pyle joined the firm as an associate in its Mt. Laurel office.

Ms. Pyle represents insurance carriers and employers in the defense of workers’ compensation claims at all stages of litigation.

She received her law degree from Rutgers Law School, Camden and a B.A. degree in Political Science from Stockton University.  Upon law school graduation, Ms. Pyle worked as a law clerk in Gloucester County for the Honorable John Eastlack, Jr., J.S.C.  She is admitted to practice law in New Jersey.

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Workers’ Compensation Shareholder Joins Capehart Scatchard

Capehart Scatchard is pleased to announce that Penelope Caamaño, Esq. has recently joined its Workers’ Compensation Department as a Shareholder in its Mount Laurel, NJ office.

With over 25 years of workers’ compensation law experience, Ms. Caamaño focuses her practice in the representation of employers, self-insured companies, and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation defense matters.

Prior to joining Capehart Scatchard, Ms. Caamaño was in-house counsel for Travelers Insurance Company where she learned the intricacies of the claims process while working on a variety of claims including catastrophic cases.  She earned her J.D. from New York University School and a B.A from Franklin and Marshall College.  Ms. Cammaño is a member of the American Inns of Court, Hispanic Bar Association, New Jersey State Bar Association, and the Risk Management Society.  She is admitted to practice law in New Jersey and New York.

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John Geaney And Prudence Higbee Speak Before New Jersey Self Insurers’ Association

Capehart Scatchard Shareholders, John H. Geaney, Esq. and Prudence M. Higbee, Esq., recently spoke at the New Jersey Self Insurers’ Association’s Workers’ Compensation Conference and Vendor Fair.  Capehart Scatchard was a gold sponsor of the conference. The three-day event was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.

Mr. Geaney served as a panelist on a program entitled “What Really Happens When You Presume? – Presumption Laws and Their Impact.”  The panel, made up of three experts from Maryland, New Jersey, and New York, discussed the origins, impact, and future of presumption laws in their respective states.

During her program, Ms. Higbee served as moderator on a panel discussion entitled “Claims 360.”  The panel discussed strategies on managing claims, specifically difficult and complex claims, safety issues, and how to resolve a case efficiently.

Mr. Geaney is Co-Chair of Capehart Scatchard’s Workers’ Compensation Group. He is active in the New Jersey Self Insurers’ Association (Membership and Programs Committees) as well as NJ PRIMA and Kids’ Chance of New Jersey.  Mr. Geaney is a member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network and is the author of Geaney’s New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Manual for Practitioners, Physicians, Adjusters, and Employers.

Ms. Higbee, Co-Chair of Capehart Scatchard’s Workers’ Compensation Group, focuses her practice in the representation of employers, self-insured companies, and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation defense matters.  Ms. Higbee received her law degree from Widener University School of Law, where she was a member of the Widener Law Symposium Journal, and her B.A. degree from Rowan University.  Prior to joining the firm, she served as a Judicial Clerk to the Honorable Samuel G. DeSimone, Assignment Judge of Vicinage 15.

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Capehart Scatchard Admits New Shareholder

Capehart Scatchard is pleased to announce that Michael P. McCaffrey was admitted as a shareholder to the 145 year old law firm.

Mr. McCaffrey represent insurance carriers and employers in the defense of workers’ compensation claims at all stages of litigation. He received his law degree from Rutgers School of Law in Camden and a dual B.A. degree in Economics and Political Science from Rutgers University in New Brunswick.  Upon law school graduation, he worked as a law clerk to the Honorable Anne McDonnell, J.S.C. in the New Jersey Superior Court, Gloucester County.  He is admitted to practice law in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

 

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