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November 03, 2003 6:58 PM
Workers’ Compensation News - November 3, 2003 Volume 1 Issue 31

 Supreme Court Sets High Judicial Threshold For Evaluating Scientific Evidence
Provides a very simple approach that completes the puzzle of necessary proof in complex workers’ compensation cases
By Jon L. Gelman 

For these stories and more visit http://www.gelmans.com

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911 COMPENSATION PROGRAM FAILS
Mount Sinai's Dr. Stephen Levin said most of his Ground Zero patients have been denied workers' compensation coverage. He called the system "dysfunctional."
http://www.nynewsday.com/news/local/newyork/politics/nyc-hszero1029,0,2184955.story?coll=nyc-topheadlines-left

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MEDICARE SECONDARY PAYER
Plaintiff Comp Lawyers in Solidarity Against Aggressive Medicare Liens
New Jersey lawyers for injured workers are pushing a broad legislative, political and litigation agenda this autumn, demonstrating how a specialty bar can advance its interests if members band together and spend some money.
NJ Law Journal (Registration Free)
http://www.law.com/jsp/nj/pubarticleNJ.jsp?id=1067014199875

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CALIFORNIA MELTDOWN CONTINUES
Benefits for disabled workers at center stage in Sacramento. Get ready for round two, with new referee Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The contest to fix California's workers' compensation program is headed to a new phase that will play a huge role in the strength of California's business climate. Employers often point to the skyrocketing costs of the broken system to treat and pay injured workers when they call the tarnished state a lousy place to do business. And the governor-elect made reform of workers' compensation one of his top priorities as he attempts to bolster the state's economy.
Contra costa Times
http://www.bayarea.com/mld/cctimes/news/7130076.htm

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CLEANERS HAVE ENHANCED ASTHMA RISK
Working as a cleaner may more than double the risk of developing asthma and other breathing problems, a study has found. Writing in the November issue of the journal Thorax, researchers warn that anyone doing household chores could come into contact with irritants in cleaning products. The research team asked a sample of 4,500 Spanish women if they had experienced any respiratory symptoms and if they had been diagnosed or treated for asthma in the previous year. Respiratory symptoms that could be attributed to work were more than twice as common among domestic cleaners as in other jobs - 12 per cent among current and former cleaners and 5 per cent among those who had never worked as cleaners. Women working as cleaners in hospitals or health care centres instead of houses also had an increased risk of developing asthma and bronchitis. An October study concluded a quarter of all asthma cases could be linked to work ( Risks 129 ).
BBC News Release
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3218785.stm

Reuters Health
http://www.reutershealth.com/archive/2003/10/28/eline/links/20031028elin009.html

M Medina-Ramón, J P Zock and others. Asthma symptoms in women employed in domestic cleaning: a community based study, Thorax, vol.58, pages 950-954, November 2003.
http://thorax.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/abstract/58/11/950

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NEEDLE STICK INJURIES INCREASE -2nd ONLY TO BACK INJURIES
Second only to back-injuries as a cause of occupational injury amongst NHS workers, an ongoing RCN surveillance project suggests that as many as 100,000 needlestick accidents occur in the UK every year. 
Safer Needles Network
http://www.needlestickforum.net/

Four UK health workers have died after being injured with needles used on patients infected with HIV, according to official figures. 
BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3217627.stm

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US EPA ASBESTOS WARNING UNDER ATTACK
The US government's 17-year effort to warn motor mechanics of the dangers of cancer-causing asbestos in brakes is under attack. The international law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius has petitioned the government’s Environmental Protection Agency to stop distributing warning booklets, posters and videotapes that give mechanics guidance on the need to protect themselves from asbestos. The petition says the science on which the material was based is unproven and irrational. The challenge, using an obscure legal process, comes as latest figures show imports of asbestos to the US have tripled in the last decade and had a value of $208.9m (£123m) last year. More than $124 million (£73m) worth of asbestos brake material was imported into the US last year. Dr Barry Castleman, an authority on asbestos and health issues, condemned the legal action. 'In making this move on EPA, the law firm seeks to justify corporate suppression of warnings in the past with government suppression of warnings today,' he said. 'The loser in this gambit is the public.' He indicated the Canadian asbestos industry, a major asbestos exporter to the US, was behind the manoeuvre.
St. Louis Post Dispatch
http://www.stltoday.com (serach)

Morgan Lewis Letter
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/graphlib.nsf/ByFilename/epa_letter.pdf/$file/epa_letter.pdf

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LEAD PAINT POISONING
Looking Outside for Lead Danger
The number of severe lead poisoning cases among children has sharply declined in New York City over the last 20 years as old peeling paint has been removed from apartments and homes. But thousands of children tested each year still have lead levels in their blood high enough to raise health concerns.
NY Times 11.2.03 (Free Registration)
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/02/nyregion/02LEAD.htm

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CASES
4th Circuit Affirms Exclusion Of Evidence Linking Cell Phones, Brain Cancer
A unanimous Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 22 said excluding evidence that there is a link between cellular phone use and brain cancer was not an abuse of discretion (Christopher J. Newman, et uxor v. Motorola Inc., et al., No. 02-2424, 4th Cir.)
http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/022424.U.pdf

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