Five Things You Need to Know: 1/31, Tuesday Edition

Peter Rousmaniere Joins as Columnist    
    • Noted workers’ compensation columnist Peter Rousmaniere will become a regular contributor to the CompNewsNetwork beginning this week. His columns will be part of the planned “Experts View” section of a newly improved media center the company will be launching in March. To read the rest of the article, click here.   
Former UT Employee Sues Drill Rig Business for Overtime Wages
    • Former Sevier County employee Sherman Sicard filed a class action lawsuit on the behalf of himself and others against Nabors International Inc. on Dec. 20 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, according to the Southeast Texas Record. The complaint states that between March 2014 and April 2016, "...Sicard worked as a tool pusher at oil well sites in excess of 40 hours each week without receiving proper overtime compensation. The plaintiff alleges Nabors International mis-classified him as an independent contractor and failed to compensate him at one and one-half times his regular rate for each hour worked more than 40 per week as required by FLSA." Sicard, represented by attorney Don J. Foty of Kennedy Hodges LLP in Houston, "...seeks trial by jury, unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, attorney fees, court costs and expenses, pre- and post-judgment interest and all other equitable relief." 
Firefighters Push For Better Cancer Coverage in Georgia 
    • Although Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill last year allowing firefighters to show a preponderance of evidence their cancer was caused on the job to collect workers' compensation benefits, firefighters are pushing again this year to get things moving. "...Gilmer County firefighter Brian Scudder says studies show firefighters are 65 percent more likely to get cancer than the public or any other occupations. He was the inspiration for the bill after he was diagnosed 12 years ago with stage 4 non-Hodgkin Lymphoma," according to Sandra Parrish of WSB Radio. Scudder helped with the new bill, which would pay firefighters diagnosed with cancer who had worked at the department for one year "...a lump sum of $25,000 to help with medical costs. In addition, they would receive long-term disability pay of 60 percent of their salary, or a lesser equivalent of $5,000, per month for up to three years. Volunteer firefighters would receive $1,500 a month for up to 42 months," according to the article. House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), who represents Scudder's district, has gotten involved to personally help.  
Former CA Campus Monitor Convicted of Workers' Compensation Fraud 
    • John Heaton, former campus monitor at Stanislaus Union School District, was hurt on the job and reported it in November 2015. He received workers' compensation and medical benefits, according to the Modesto Bee. "During a subsequent investigation, it was alleged Heaton presented false statements and material misrepresentations during a meeting with the school district’s return-to-work specialist," according to the article. "Heaton misrepresented facts as it related to his physical abilities and limitations associated with his injury," according to the District Attorney’s Office. Heaton pled no contest to felony insurance fraud for "...unlawfully and knowingly made a false and fraudulent material statement in support of obtaining workers’ compensation insurance benefits..." Heaton will serve three years of formal probation and 30 days in jail. Restitution was also ordered in the amount of $8,341.66 for reimbursement and investigation costs.  
 Medical Marijuana in Utah? Not this Year... 
    • The Utah legislature announced last week it won't be pursuing legalizing medical marijuana this year. It will instead work toward research/infrastructure bills for when (and if) it becomes legal later, writes Jennifer Graham of the Deseret News Utah. Although 28 states have legalized medical marijuana in some way, Utah has only approved CBD oil for intractable epilepsy. Some people opposed to legalization say the government sanction could encourage more use in adolescents. New Jersey resident and nurse Jessie Gill, spotlighted in the article, hurt her neck and shoulder on the job. After using all of her workers' compensation benefits and losing her job, she was taking up to 10-15 pills per day. Under New Jersey law, she qualified for medical marijuana use after an initial $200 application fee. “...After a few puffs, calm washed over me. For the first time in years, my damaged, contorted muscles felt normal, at least for a little while. I was surprised, and I knew right then that this medication was something amazing,” she said. 

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