Around the Nation: April 2015

State news and updates from CLM chapters, reps, and committees.

April 16, 2015 Photo

CALIFORNIA: Mandatory Paid Sick Leave for Nonexempt Employees

The Healthy Families Act of 2014, approved by Governor Brown on Sept. 10, 2014, requires employers to provide sick leave for nonexempt employees. Sick leave shall be acquired by employees at the rate of one hour per every 30 hours worked. An employee shall be entitled to this benefit if he works for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment, on or after July 1, 2015. An employee will be entitled to use accrued sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment. Expect employer liability claims and lawsuits after July 1, 2015, premised upon violations of this act. Employers that are unaware of the change in the law may unwittingly violate the act.—From Orange County Chapter Member Robert A. von Esch

CONNECTICUT: Coverage for First Responders with PTSD

The Connecticut General Assembly is revisiting whether to grant workers’ compensation coverage for first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as those who responded to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Following previous defeats, proponents have offered a more limited bill (SB 902) that would provide coverage for police officers, firefighters, or emergency medical workers diagnosed with PTSD after witnessing the death of a person or the immediate aftermath of such a death while in the line of duty. Past legislation included other workers who witnessed such carnage. The latest bill passed the legislature’s Public Safety Committee with a 22-3 vote. It awaits further action in the state Senate. As in previous years, lawmakers said they want to help first responders, but worry about the potential financial burden on cities and towns. Organizations representing municipalities are opposing the bill, arguing that claims could range from thousands of dollars to more than a million dollars, depending on the duration and scope of treatment.—From Connecticut Chapter Secretary Brian Del Gatto

KENTUCKY: Second State of Emergency Called as Snow Shuts Down Major Highways and More

Governor Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency a second time in less than a month after parts of the state were blasted with almost two feet of snow in early March. The declaration allowed the National Guard to assist stranded travelers. Massive backups left hundreds of drivers stranded for hours on I-24, I-65, and other major roads. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet labeled several counties and the city of Louisville as “completely covered,” said spokesperson Andrea Clifford. “You can’t see pavement. You can’t see the markings. It is difficult to see where the road is and where the shoulder is.” According to the Weather Channel, the small town of Baizetown received the most from the storm at 23 inches, just three inches from the all-time state record for a single snowstorm.—From Kentucky Chapter Vice President Helena Carpenter

MARYLAND: New Rule Protects Private Information

Maryland has adopted Rule 1-322.1, which says that any personal identifier information (PII), unless permitted by a court order or required by law, shall not be included in any electronic or paper filing. What constitutes PII is listed as the Social Security number, taxpayer ID number, date of birth, or the numeric or alphabetic characters of a financial or medical account identifier. Financial accounts include credit and debit card accounts, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, insurance policies, annuity contracts, personal identification numbers, or other account passwords, as well as “health information identifiers.” There is a provision that provides sanctions for a violation of the rule.—From Local Chapter Regional Chair Robert H. Peahl

OHIO: Courts Muddy the Waters for the Open and Obvious Doctrine

Ohio’s appellate districts historically have held that a patron cannot claim that her own actions serve as an exception to the open and obvious doctrine (i.e., act as an attendant circumstance). Ohio’s 11th District Court of Appeals, however, has disagreed recently, holding in Gibson v. Leber that a patron whose view of an open and obvious parking lot defect allegedly obscured by her car door can overcome summary judgment and proceed to trial. This holding, coupled with at least one other appellate district that has “mixed authority” on the issue, sets the stage for the issue to be addressed by the Ohio Supreme Court.—From CLM Member Riannon Ziegler

OREGON: Tricky Dealings in Construction Indemnity Agreements

In Sunset Presbyterian Church v. Andersen Construction Co., a church filed suit against the general contractor and subcontractors for construction defects in a contracted project. The general contractor demanded that the subcontractors pay its defense costs (duty to defend) under the subcontract indemnity provision. B&B Title and Masonry, the last subcontractor remaining in the case, refused to defend. The court held that Oregon’s anti-indemnity statute (ORS 30.140) limits a subcontractor’s duty to defend a general contractor to those allegations that are within the subcontractor’s scope of work only. Even when the duty to defend is triggered, the general contractor has the burden of proving what portion of defense costs, if any, are attributable to the subcontractor.—From CLM Member Jack Levy

About The Authors
Bevrlee J. Lips

Bevrlee J. Lips was managing editor of Claims Management magazine (now CLM Magazine) from January 2012 until March 2017.

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