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NCCI’s Countrywide Court Case Update provides a look at some of the cases and decisions monitored by NCCI’s Legal Team that may impact workers compensation (WC) across the states. This July 2022 edition contains updated information on cases previously introduced and presents new cases and decisions.

Stakeholders remain interested in COVID-19-related cases that could impact the WC system.

In California and Wisconsin courts have considered issues related to employer liability for injuries suffered by the spouse of an employee who allegedly contracted COVID-19 at work and spread it to the spouse at home.
In Texas, a federal court held that WC exclusive remedy bars a tort lawsuit brought against an employer by the family and estate of an employee who contracted and died from COVID-19.

And in Ohio, in Yeager v. Arconic Inc., an appellate court found that an employee’s contraction of COVID-19 was not an occupational disease in WC because the employee failed to show that the employment created a risk of contracting COVID-19 in a greater degree and different manner than the general public.

And the legal status of marijuana and its implications for Workers Compensation claims administrators remains a hot topic.

In 2022 Rhode Island legalized recreational marijuana (S 2430/H 7593), Maryland passed legislation (HB 1) allowing voters to decide on a constitutional amendment that would allow recreational use, and the Mississippi legislature enacted a bill (SB 2095) that legalizes medical marijuana.

So far, 20 jurisdictions have legalized recreational marijuana and 38 allow for medical use.

In the meantime, marijuana reimbursement in WC remains a state-by-state patchwork. On June 21, 2022, the United States Supreme Court denied the petition to review the case of Musta v. Mendota Heights Dental Center, where the court was asked to resolve the question of whether the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) preempts a state order requiring employers and insurers to reimburse claimants for their medical marijuana use.

The case was on appeal from the Supreme Court of Minnesota which, on October 13, 2021, ruled that the prohibition of marijuana possession under the CSA preempts an order made under Minnesota WC law that requires an employer to reimburse an injured employee for the cost of medical marijuana used to treat a work-related injury.

Courts have also reviewed employment-related marijuana questions. On January 14, 2022, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire, in Paine v. Ride-Away, Inc., ruled that the lawful use of therapeutic cannabis can be a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability under New Hampshire law.

For more information on cases monitored by NCCI’s Legal Team, visit previous Court Case Updates, COVID-19 Court Cases, and Court Case Insights on