Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!


In March 2022, the American Bar Association Trial and Insurance Practice (TIPS) section is bringing back its mid-year meeting. This annual tradition has come to have special meaning for the workers' compensation attorney community because of the College of Workers' Compensation Lawyers (CWCL). TIPS was crucial to the formation of the CWCL. And, each year the CWCL has traditionally held its induction dinner at the mid-year. SARS-CoV-2 trifled with that in 2020 and 2021, but it returns in 2022 in the French Quarter of New Orleans. 

I am proud to be on the agenda, participating in a panel Saturday, March 5, 2022, moderated by Bob Wilson. We are fortunate that we did not draw the first panel assignment, nor the last before lunch. The timing (10:30) is likely ideal for those who spend Friday evening on a detailed safety and risk audit of the famous Rue Bourbon. Ours is not the same panel that was planned for the (cancelled) meeting in 2020, but it is a great group. The last two years has effected change and challenge; unfortunately, some of the original panelists are not available after our two-year delay. But, this panel on delays in treatment will be dynamic, educational, and enjoyable. 

Bob Wilson moderates a panel like few others, which has led to his perennial feature role of the Southern Association of Workers' Compensation Administrators (SAWCA) and "Things that make Bob go Hmmm?" He is also co-host of the industry-favorite Workers' Compensation Hot Seat webinar series, and has threatened to launch a podcast to supplement his award-winning blogs. 

Our Saturday, March 5, 2022 panel is from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. We will discuss delays, their causes, and potential cures. This will be a "frank discussion about the core issues that drive these lags in care." The panel includes Michael I. Fish of Birmingham, Alabama and Robert C. Nelson, of Belleville, IL There is significant geographic and practical breadth here with these speakers coming from very different workers' compensation systems and hopefully I will add a national perspective. Delays in care are increasingly lamented in workers' compensation and the issue is challenging. There are many causes and contributors. 

As great as that particular panel will be, there is more to gain from this program. Speakers include luminaries David Torrey of Pennsylvania, Ann Bishop of Georgia, Hon. LuAnn Haley of Arizona, Hon. John Lazzara (Ret) of Florida, Hon. Shannon Bruno Bishop of Louisiana, Prof. Luz Molina of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, Claire Muselman of Florida, Hon. Pamela Moses-Laramore of Louisiana, Hon. Todd Seelig of Pennsylvania, William Zachry of California, Charles Davoli of Louisiana, and Secretary Sheral Kellar of Louisiana. This is just to name a few (complete program below). I am familiar with each of these personally, and they bring outstanding perspectives. 

Judge Torrey has literally forgotten more about workers' compensation than most of us will ever learn. Judge Lazzara is one of the few people in the industry that personally remembers when the original workers' compensation laws were passed (he was a teenager). William Zachry has been both a pioneer and reformer in the nation's largest system. Sheral Kellar has been involved in workers' compensation from various legal, judicial, and administrative vantage points. Judges Bishop and Haley have an incredible national perspective on the challenges these systems present. It would take many paragraphs to even attempt to do justice to the experience, breadth, and depth of the speakers at this program. I am honored to carry their briefcases. 

The topics are as diverse as the speakers. There will be discussion of the "gig" economy, ethics, Kids' Chance, undocumented workers, implicit bias, sexual harassment, interplay with admiralty law, challenges of gender bias and discrimination, and a national case law update. This will be a fantastically broad and deep educational experience followed by the CWCL Induction dinner Saturday night. There is something on this agenda for any workers' compensation litigator or claims professional. 

The world very much wants to return to normal. Though there are some who remain cautious, many of us have returned to travel and open interaction. The Workers' Compensation Institute in Orlando last December proved that. That conference was dynamic, in-person, and effective. Participation was outstanding, including volunteer activities like the Give Kids the World effort and socializing in the Kids' Chance of Florida Golf Tournament. People were out in force, meeting, greeting, and socializing. 

The ABA conference will be focused upon safety. There are requirements regarding SARS-CoV-2 and COVID. There will be ample opportunities for slathering on the hand sanitizer, and of course requests for social distancing will be honored. There will likely be  some who mask for self-protection (if you are among these, please accept my apologies in advance if I fail to recognize you). If you do not wish to shake hands, please excuse if I proffer mine, and have no fear of offending me by declining. Critical in our interactions will be our willingness to respect each other's concerns and preferences in such settings. 

There is every reason to predict that the ABA program in New Orleans will likewise include much socializing, sharing, and collaboration on more effectively meeting the demands of the workers' compensation systems. I am looking forward to seeing so many national leaders bring perspective to the challenges we face. As the Cars so eloquently put it "Laissez les bons temps rouler" (The Cars, 1978).



The detailed agenda is available, and an abbreviated version is below.

FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2022 



8:00 AM – 8:15 AM WELCOME REMARKS AND UPDATES FROM TIPS SPEAKERS: John McMeekin, Chair-Elect, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Rawle & Henderson, Philadelphia, PA Elizabeth Smith, Chair, Workers’ Compensation & Employers Liability Committee, Verrill Dana LLP 

8:15 AM – 9:15 AM 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON STATE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAWS This panel will discuss the history of the National Commission on State Workers’ Compensation Laws. On July 31, 1972 the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation Laws delivered its report to President Nixon and Congress. The report outlined 84 recommendations, 19 of which were deemed “essential.” In the following 50 years that report has formed the framework for a modern workers’ compensation act. Looking at the experience of two states, one among those that have adopted most of the essential recommendations, and one among the least, this panel will assess the influence of the National Commission and its relevance today. MODERATOR: James M. Gallen, Attorney, Evans & Dixon, LLC, St. Louis, MO PANELISTS: David B. Menchetti, Partner, Cullen, Haskins, Nicholson & Menchetti, P.C., Chicago, IL Eddie Walker, Attorney, Walker Law Group, PLC, Forth Smith, AZ 

9:15 AM – 10:15 AM WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AND THE ‘GIG” ECONOMY: CHALLENGES FLOWING FROM TEMPORARY WORK This panel will address the law, and developments surrounding, workers’ compensation as the program faces the evolution of the so-called “gig” economy. This phenomenon, also called “nonstandard work,” is marked by a growing number of workers assigned–often questionably–as independent contractors, and by an increased number of workers laboring via (1) temporary and staffing companies; (2) “Professional Employer Organizations” (PEOs); (3) franchise outlets; (4) via platform intermediaries; and (5) as individual entrepreneurs. Among other things, the speakers will discuss the concern over employee misclassification, and how states have acted to respond to the practice; the efforts of gig economy entrepreneurs to enact laws to make it difficult for its workers ever to claim employee status; and the latest case law surrounding nonstandard work. The speakers will also discuss the recent (2019) California law regulating gig economy enterprises. In general, the panel will seek to predict if and under what circumstances a true gig economy worker, like a rideshare service driver, may be considered an employee for workers’ compensation purposes. MODERATOR: Hon. David Torrey, Workers’ Compensation Judge, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Pittsburgh, PA PANELIST: Professor Michael Duff, University of Wyoming School of Law, Laramie, WY

10:15 AM – 10:30 AM KIDS CHANCE PRESENTATION SPEAKERS: Ann Bishop, Hall Booth Smith, PC, Atlanta, GA Christopher K. Ralston, President Louisiana Bar Foundation Molly Cvitanovic, Kids’ Chance recipient, New Orleans, LA 


10:30 AM – 10:45 AM BREAK 

10:45 AM – 11:45 AM ETHICS IN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND LEGAL MARKETING IN THE 21ST CENTURY In this day and age, everyone is posting online, blogging, tweeting, and re-tweeting. Every day it seems that there is a new way to reach thousands of potential clients online. But with each new medium, there are unexpected pitfalls that attorneys must avoid. Legal services advertising is heavily regulated in every state. The panelists will discuss the unique challenges of marketing in the age of the internet and social media, the ethical considerations, and how to get the word out without running afoul of the Bar. MODERATOR: Michael Fish, Fish Nelson, LLC, Birmingham, AL PANELISTS: Sydney W. Degan, III, Degan, Blanchard & Nash, New Orleans, LA Catherine Surbeck, Freedman & Lorry, P.C., Philadelphia, PA 

11:45 AM – 12:45 PM UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS AND RELATED ISSUES This panel will discuss complications in handling workers compensation claims involving undocumented workers especially involving medical treatment if they choose or are forced to return to their country of origin. MODERATOR: Ann Bishop, Hall Booth Smith, PC, Atlanta, GA PANELISTS: Javier Grajeda, Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski, PC, Phoenix, AZ Hon. Luann Haley, Administrative Law Judge at State of Arizona John Parente, Laughlin, Falbo Levy & Moresi, LLP, Sacramento, CA Ashley Palkewick, Executive Vice President, CompX, Matawan, NJ 

12:45 PM – 1:45 PM LUNCH BREAK 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM WHO ME? IMPLICIT BIAS IN WORKERS’ COMPENSATION MEDIATIONS AND LITIGATION Implicit bias can hinder or sidetrack success in workers’ compensation proceedings. The best lawyers and judges know the value of increasing their awareness and sensitivity to recognize implicit bias and navigate its potential deleterious effects to achieve successful outcomes. A panel of judges and a law school professor will discuss understanding and management of implicit bias, with a special emphasis in the mediation and trial context. MODERATOR: Hon. Todd Seelig, Judge, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Philadelphia, PA PANELISTS: Hon. Shannon Bruno Bishop, Judge, Louisiana Workforce Commission, Harahan, LA Hon. John Lazzara, Retired Judge of Florida Compensation Claims, Private Mediator, and Adjunct Professor, Tallahassee, FL Prof. Luz Molina, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, New Orleans, LA

2:45 PM – 3:45 PM SEXUAL HARASSMENT AS A WORK-RELATED INJURY (POST #METOO) This panel will discuss how sexual harassment in the work-place may qualify as a work-related injury while still qualifying for Title VII coverage. Panelists will discuss strategies to assist the practitioner in recognizing these claims at the outset and offer tips designed to best manage the course of the claim in the forum with the most benefit to the client. This is a timely topic in the wake of the #MeToo movement, and attendees are sure to come away with new tools, insights and perspectives. MODERATOR: Matthew Schiff, Sugar, Felsenthal, Grais & Helsinger, LLP, Chicago, IL PANELIST: Elizabeth Smith, Verill Dana, Portland, ME Marla A. Joseph, Esq., Law Offices of Marla A. Joseph, L.L.C., Jenkintown, PA 

3:45 PM – 4:00 PM BREAK 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM HUMANIZING WORKERS’ COMP: THE ADVANTAGES OF BEING NICE . . . 60 TIPS IN 60 MINUTES In 1744, Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard’s Almanac, “Tart words make no friends; a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.” Do these words still ring true, and can they be applied in the workers’ comp context? Representatives from all walks of workers’ compensation life share their tips–in 60-second sound bites–on how best to make this strategy work. MODERATOR: Bryan Ramos, Ramos & Law, Atlanta, GA PANELISTS: Claire Muselman, VP of Workers’ Compensation, North American Risk Services, Orlando, FL Shirley Hinton, Manager, Workers’ Compensation, National DCP, LLC, Duluth, GA Cheryl Hill, Claims Manager, Brentwood Services Administrators, Inc., Charlotte, NC William Zachry, Senior Fellow, Sedgwick Institute, CA 

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM INTERPLAY OF ADMIRALTY AND STATE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ISSUES The Panel will discuss the interplay with The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), Jones Act, and various State workers’ compensation statutes concerning compensable work injuries. The Panel will explain coverage and jurisdiction for land-based maritime workers and benefits available under The Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. The Panel will review who qualify as Jones Act seamen and maritime employers, the type of compensation an injured maritime worker can receive, and some key considerations with workplace injuries in the maritime industry. The panel will also review various State workers’ compensation statutes for potential coverage, jurisdiction, and choice of remedy issues. The panel will explore tactics for litigation, valuation, mediation, and resolution of these various types of work injury claims. Finally, the panel will address several ethical issues that commonly arise when handling LHWCA, Jones Act, and State workers’ compensation claims. MODERATOR: Zachary Rubinich, Rawle, & Henderson, Philadelphia, PA PANELISTS: Shari Miltiades, Law Office of Shari S. Miltiades, P.C., Savannah, GA Simone H. Yoder, Bland, Legrand, & Bracket, New Orleans, LA Aaron Greenbaum, Pusateri, Johnston, Guillot & Greenbaum, New Orleans, LA Jason Olszewski, Broker, McGriff, Seibels & Williams, Inc, Atlanta, GA 



7:30 AM – 12:00 PM REGISTRATION 


8:05 AM – 8:15 AM INTRODUCTION AND WELCOMING REMARKS SPEAKERS: Jacque Brawner Dean, President, College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Jacque Brawnner, Dean Law, Edmond, OK 

8:15 AM – 9:15 AM CHALLENGES TO BEING A FEMALE TRIAL ATTORNEY Attendees will hear from a panel of women as they address issues facing females in litigation roles. Attorneys from both sides, as well as a local judge, will discuss what they would have done differently early in their careers, the struggles of balancing a demanding career with a fulfilling personal life, the importance of finding mentors, and their individual perspectives on the state of the legal profession today. Panel members will also share thoughts on a woman’s role in courtroom and client development settings as compared to that of a man in similar situations. This honest and informative presentation will unmask many of the challenges unique to women practicing law today, and ways our profession can effectively respond. MODERATOR: Lisa A. Wade, Swift Currie, Atlanta, GA PANELISTS: R. Chinny Law, Ramos Law Firm, Atlanta, GA Janet L. Frickey, The Frickey Law Firm, Denver, CO Jennifer Sullivan Lambert, Juge Napolitano, Guilbeau, Ruli & Frieman, Metairie, LA Jean Dickson, Betty, Neuman & McMahon, PLC, Davenport, IA Hon. Pamela Moses-Laramore, Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration, Baton Rouge, LA THE COLLEGE OF WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAWYERS 

9:15 AM – 10:15 AM NATIONAL CASE LAW UPDATE: THE TOP TEN WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CASES OF THE PAST YEAR Judge David Torrey will lead a panel discussion of the ten most important–and educational–workers’ compensation cases that have come down during the past year. MODERATOR: Hon. David B. Torrey, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Pittsburgh, PA PANELISTS: Jeffrey C. Napolitano, Juge, Napolitano, Guilbeau, Ruli & Frieman, Metairie, LA Barbara Holmes, Blaufeld Schiller & Holmes LLP, Pittsburgh, PA 

10:15 AM – 10:30 AM BREAK

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM DELAYED TREATMENT IN WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES AND SOLUTIONS Delays in treatment for compensable workers’ compensation claims increase costs and litigation, while reducing the quality of outcomes that injured workers experience. What are the primary causes of these delays? Is it a systemic issue driven by regulatory complexity and poorly executed process, or are the causes more diverse or even malevolent in nature? What are the factors that drive delays, and how do we as an industry address them? What are the responsibilities of employers, providers, the legal community and even injured workers in ensuring prompt and accurate care? Our panel will have a frank discussion about the core issues that drive these lags in care, as well as what must be done to improve comp through prompt and effective provision of medical services. MODERATOR: Robert Wilson,, Sarasota, FL PANELISTS: Hon. David Langham, Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims, Pensacola, FL Michael I. Fish, Fish Nelson & Holden, LLC, Birmingham, AL Robert C. Nelson, Nelson & Nelson, Belleville, IL 

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL WORKERS’ COMPENSATION PRACTICE: LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE TRENCHES Take a tip or two from these workers’ comp veterans on such diverse topics as controlling overhead, blogging as a marketing tool, and using social media effectively in the courtroom. MODERATOR: Hon. Sheral C. Kellar, Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration, Baton Rouge, LA PANELISTS: Eric T. Lanham, McAnany Van Cleave & Phillips, Kansas City, KS Charles R. Davoli, Charles R. Davoli, L.L.C., Baton Rouge, LA 

12:30 PM – 12:40 PM CLOSING REMARKS AND ADJOURNMENT SPEAKER: Jacque Brawner, Dean, President, College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Jacque Brawnner, Dean Law, Edmond, OK

By Judge David Langham

Courtesy of Florida Workers' Comp

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    About The Author

    • Judge David Langham

      David Langham is the Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims for the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims at the Division of Administrative Hearings. He has been involved in workers’ compensation for over 25 years as an attorney, an adjudicator, and administrator. He has delivered hundreds of professional lectures, published numerous articles on workers’ compensation in a variety of publications, and is a frequent blogger on Florida Workers’ Compensation Adjudication. David is a founding director of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary and the Professional Mediation Institute, and is involved in the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA) and the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). He is a vocal advocate of leveraging technology and modernizing the dispute resolution processes of workers’ compensation.

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