New Jersey Supreme Court Decides Ms. Renner’s Death Was Not Compensable


Trenton, NJ ( – Cathleen Renner created and executed contingency plans for AT&T under a telecommuting agreement that allowed her to work several days at home. Her job involved making and receiving numerous calls and e-mails under conditions driven by deadlines and often necessitating long working hours. Ms. Renner died of a pulmonary embolism after working for long hours on a particular project.

 While the petitioner's medical expert opined that sedentary work for long hours was the precipitant of this pulmonary embolism, the respondent's medical expert concluded that it was impossible to state, within a reasonable degree of medical probability, that it was work effort rather than other risk factors which actually caused Ms. Renner's death. Both a judge of compensation and the Appellate Division rendered decisions in favor of awarding workers' compensation dependency benefits pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:15-7.2.

However, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed and held that Ms. Renner's death was not compensable because there was a failure to show that the extended sitting she did here constituted the kind of “work effort or strain involving a substantial condition, event or happening” required to support a cardiovascular claim under the statute. 

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