When Arbitrators Exceed their Authority Under the FAA

By: Brennan C. Morrissett

Arbitration awards are often described as ironclad, with arbitrators’ findings generally not susceptible to challenge.  Historically, and as a matter of public policy, arbitral power is intentionally limited to only those matters the parties have specifically contracted to subject to arbitration.  This means an arbitrator has no power to rule on issues except for those expressly assigned to them by contract by the parties.  Challenges to arbitrators’ failure to observe this fundamental limitation led to several recent United States Supreme Court “exceeded authority” cases – one of four limited bases on which an arbitrator’s finding can be challenged.  These rulings give some much needed

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Virginia's UM/UIM Statute Amended to Clarify 2015 Amendment

 

The Virginia UM/UIM statute, Va. Code §38.2-2206, has yet again been amended by the legislature. SB1293 was signed into law by the Governor and became effective July 1, 2019. This bill clarifies the 2015 amendment to Virginia Code §38.2-2206, which allowed liability carriers to tender their limits and shift the duty to defend its insured to the UM/UIM carrier.

This bill solves several problems with the 2015 iteration of §38.2-2206. First, in Section K, it states that if a release explicitly indicates it is being executed pursuant to §38.2-2206, any release language inconsistent with the code section is void. This code update shouldencourage attorneys for the plaintiffs to sign a properly worded release.

Second, the amendment clarifies the nature of the relationship between the tortfeasor and the UIM carrier’s counsel. Subsection K plainly states there is no attorney-client relationship

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Commission Determines “Out of Work” Note is a “Light Duty” Note

 

Workers' Compensation Case Watch

In Umana v. Clark Construction Group, the claimant was injured in a work accident.  The claimant saw a doctor for his work-related injuries.  In his report, the doctor outlined the claimant’s light duty restrictions but also said “there is no light duty work available, so he remains unable to work at this time.”  In his office notes each month, the doctor repeated that because there was no light duty available, the claimant remained unable to work.  The Deputy Commissioner found that the claimant was totally disabled during those periods.

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Defending Your Negligent Entrustment Case

By: Megan Watson

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Litigation Obtained Citizenship Oath for MAVNI Army Specialist Waiting Years

Litigation is often the only way forward for immigrants. That was what U.S. Army Specialist Junfei Ge concluded as he waited nearly three years for the “expedited” naturalization he was promised by the U.S. government when he enlisted under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program.

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Help Me Help You: 3 Things Your Attorney Needs to Successfully Defend Your Insured

By: Jim Snyder

When a new case first comes in, certain pieces of information facilitate our initial investigation. Of course, when a lawsuit is the first notice of loss, everyone is starting the defense with little to no information to pass along. However, in most instances, the client has received some essential information before the claim becomes a lawsuit and finds its way to us.

Immediate access to these three things helps us attack the case:

1) Accurate contact information for the named insured and the tortfeasor, if different. This would include at least a phone number and a physical address. Most files arrive with the name and address of the named insured, but being able to pick

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320-Mile Round Trip to Doctor Unreasonable

 

Workers' Compensation Case Watch

In Clarke v. Hughes Center, LLC., the claimant established a treating physician relationship with a pain management doctor in Danville, VA. The claimant later moved out of state, but continued having appointments with the same treating physician. The claimant was traveling 320 miles round-trip to see the doctor. The defendants filed an Employer’s Application for Hearing seeking a change in treating physician. The Deputy Commissioner denied the Employer’s Application.  

On review, the Full Commission listed the six-factors it considers to justify a change in treating physician: 1) inadequate treatment is being rendered; 2) a specialist’s treatment is needed but

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Duty to Market - A Return to Basics

By: Brian M. Frame

Looking through the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, you won’t find “marketing” or “duty to market” anywhere in the legislated sections of the Act. Instead, this frequently contested topic appears deep in the case notes of §65.2-510, a statutory provision dealing with the claimant’s refusal of employment.  

HISTORY

In J.A. Foust Coal Co. v. Messer, 195 VA. 762 (1954), the Supreme Court laid the ground work for the modern marketing rule with this single sentence: “one who has suffered a partial physical disability may obtain total incapacity payments if, because of his disability, he is unable to market his remaining capacity for work.” The consequence of this new rule was that the partially disabled

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No Penalty Due When Timely Payment Mailed with Signature Required

 

Workers' Compensation Case Watch

In Woods v. Mecklenburg County Public Schools, VA00001320337, (7/19/19), the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission declined to assess a 20% penalty against the defendants for late payment of benefits.

The claimant settled his case and the Commission approved the settlement Order. The parties had thirty days to appeal the Order. Under Va Code § 65.2-524 payment was due within two weeks after the appeal period expired or a 20% penalty would be added. One day before the penalty would apply, the defendant mailed payment to the claimant at his address of record by certified mail, requiring a signature from the recipient. 

The claimant argued that payment was late because of the signature requirement.  The claimant also argued that the Commission should have taken judicial notice of

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Simple Act of Bending

 

Workers' Compensation Case Watch

In Williams v. CJ Designs, Inc.,  VA00001427406 (July 8, 2019), the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission found that a claim arose out of the employment when an employee was injured while straightening up after bending from the waist with nothing in her hands.

The claimant, a Certified Nursing Assistant, was helping a patient into a car when she injured her back. The claimant bent straight forward from her waist, with her arms in a U-shape so she could scoop them under the patient’s legs and pivot the patient’s feet in front of her. She had already touched the patient’s feet, did not have anything in her hands, and was straightening from the waist when she felt a pop in her back. The claimant confirmed that she had performed this action many times and that it was not in any way awkward or unusual. The Deputy Commissioner found that the claimant’s injury did not arise out of the employment.

The Commission REVERSED, finding that the claimant was required to

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