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Appeals court finds for insurer in worker’s comp case where victim’s mother died

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The mother of an injured worker whose estate claims she died due to emotional distress caused by an insurer’s handling of her son’s case cannot directly sue the insurer before exhausting the regulatory process, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

In Amerisafe Risk Services, Inc., and Leerae Riggs v. The Estate of Hazel D. Wadsack, deceased, by Ronald J. Wadsack as Personal Rep., and Ronald J. Wadsack, individually, 88A01-1204-CT-144, the trial court without explanation denied Amerisafe’s motion to dismiss. The estate claimed that Hazel Wadsack died as a result of emotional distress at the handling of her son’s worker’s compensation claim. Matthew Wadsack had been severely shocked and burned while working for Mills Tree Service and was in a coma for some time.

“The Wadsacks argue that the Worker’s Compensation Board … does not have jurisdiction because their claims are not on behalf of Matthew, or based directly on his injuries, but instead are based on the handling of Matthew’s claims. We disagree,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote for the unanimous panel.

The judges ruled that I.C. 22-3-2-6.2 extends to personal representatives and next of kin. “While the Wadsacks may not have a claim for benefits pending themselves, the Board nonetheless has jurisdiction over their suit, which is a derivative of Matthew’s claim for benefits,” Robb wrote.

The court also rejected the Wadsacks’ argument that a requirement to have their case heard by the board deprived them of the open courts provision of articles 1 and 12 of the Indiana Constitution. It noted the Wadsacks would have access to court to challenge an adverse ruling from the Worker’s Compensation Board, and the panel also agreed with Amerisafe that direct suits against third-party insurers are generally not allowed in Indiana.

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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