First Respnoders at Ground Zero

Exposure at Ground Zero and Aggressive Prostate Cancer Linked?

Here at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan we have had the distinct honor of representing many first responders who heeded the call of duty on September 11, 2001 in obtaining Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability, and/or Accidental Disability benefits associated with their service.

One of these claimants was a Suffolk County Police Officer of the Motorcycle Unit assigned to various World Trade Center sites including Ground Zero. It was during this period that he was exposed to toxic debris and carcinogens for 11 hours at a time without any respiratory protection. This brave officer was subsequently diagnosed with a nearly fatal prostate cancer 17 years later that was deemed related to his earlier exposure at Ground Zero.

Unfortunately, our claimant is not alone in his diagnosis. There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that there may be a link between an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer and exposure to the fallout from September, 11 2001 as documented by the writer Janet Farrar Worthington:

“’The dust was an inflammatory insult to the body,’ says medical oncologist William Oh, M.D., of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.  Oh and Mount Sinai epidemiologist Emanuela Taioli, M.D., Ph.D., recently published a study in Molecular Cancer Research showing that one of the inflammatory responses within the prostate was an increase in an inflammatory T cell, called Th-17, in men exposed to the toxic dust.

Oh believes that exposure to the toxins ‘increased the inflammatory cascade within the prostate, and this may have contributed to the risk of developing more aggressive prostate cancer,’ particularly in first responders and volunteers who spent a lot of time searching for victims in the rubble.”

This research only highlights the absolute necessity for all first responders to follow up with their physicians on a regular basis to ensure their health and safety.

Additionally, if you or a loved one qualify as a first responder suffering from a similar 9/11- related illness, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact our office at (866) 557-7500 or visit our website to schedule a free consultation.

Shane L. Farrell

Associate Attorney

Janet Farrar Worthington, Ground Zero and Prostate Cancer Prostate Cancer Foundation, (September 11, 2019)

New York’s Medical Marijuana

New York’s Medical Marijuana Outlook

New York’s Medical Marijuana program has provided doctors with a new tool to help claimant’s deal with debilitating pain. Nevertheless, the legality of the treatment option does not mean that Workers’ Compensation carriers will accept paying for it.  The question then turns to whether the Workers’ Compensation Board will authorize that treatment over the objection of the carrier.

Legally speaking, the New York Workers’ Compensation Board has expressly noted that they have the authority to compel a New York State Workers’ Compensation carrier to pay for medical marijuana under the liberal construction of WCL § 13(a). Whether the Board finds that a doctor’s request meets the threshold to trigger that action is another matter. The Board has made it clear that a treating provider that requests the use of medical marijuana must satisfy a number of prerequisites before a finding is made that the treatment is appropriate.

The first hurdle for patients is to seek out a medical provider specifically licensed and registered by the Department of Health to prescribe medical marijuana. The provider then must certify that their patient has one of the qualifying conditions under the Public Health Law.

New York’s Public Health Law permits the use of medical marijuana to be recommended to treat severely debilitating or life threatening conditions such as cancer, HIV, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease (see Public Health Law § 3360[7]). The regulation also allows for the use of medical marijuana to treat severely debilitating pain as an alternative to opioids use as long as the underlying condition is expressly noted on the patient’s medical marijuana certification. To complicate matters further, the patient must also have an associated condition: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms (see Public Health Law § 3360[7][ii]; 10 NYCRR 1004.2[a][9]).

If the treating provider finds that the claimant does qualify for the use of medical marijuana, the next step is getting it authorized by the carrier. Provider’s must adhere to the New York State medical treatment guidelines when seeking a specific treatment option. If that option is not covered by the guidelines, the doctor must then file a MG-2.0 variance form specifically noting that the patient/claimant adheres to the use of medical marijuana and explain why treatment options covered by the guidelines are not appropriate or sufficient. The doctor must also provide proof of his registration to prescribe medical marijuana as well as a copy of the claimant’s certification to legally obtain medical marijuana in New York. Only then will the Board consider the merits of the doctor’s request.

Unfortunately for injured workers in New York, carriers have been overwhelmingly successful in overturning Law Judges’ decisions to approve the use of Medical Marijuana on appeal. That does not mean it is impossible to obtain approval for medical marijuana, but only that any request by a doctor must precisely adhere to the Board requirements if they expect the Board to authorize the treatment over the objection of the carrier.

In the event you are seeking the use of medical marijuana as a treatment option in your claim, consult with an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney to help navigate this process.

Timothy Finnegan

Associate Attorney

Suffolk County PD – Heart Attack in the Line of Duty

It is now widely recognized that cardiovascular issues are nearly 1.7 times higher amongst police officers when compared to the general population [1]. These “heart” issues may vary in severity from mild hypertension to a fatal stroke and can be found in officers of all ages. [2]

Therefore, it becomes vitally important for all Suffolk County police officers to be aware of what may be available to them by way of Worker’s Compensation benefits, and NY General Municipal Law (GML) 207-c benefits, should they sustain a cardiac injury while in the line of duty. These are two distinct legal remedies that may be available to an officer under particular circumstances. They are not the same, and should not be treated as such:

Workers Compensation:

Worker’s Compensation is essentially an insurance required for nearly all employees in New York State including Suffolk County police officers. This insurance provides medical coverage and partial monetary compensation for injuries sustained as a result of their employment. The medical coverage extends only to the job-related injury, and the monetary amount for each officer is determined by the date of the injury in question, and the injured officer’s average weekly wage at that time. Essentially in order for a police officer to successfully obtain Worker’s Compensation benefits for a cardiovascular condition, he must provide medical evidence from his treating physician which shows how it relates to his/her employment.

In Employer: City of Schenectady, a police officer suffered a heart attack while at home after coming back from a strenuous training program required by his department. This officer was able to get Worker’s Compensation benefits because the medical experts agreed that the stress of his job duties as a police officer played a role in causing the heart attack, “It would be certainly appropriate to conclude that his severe job stresses that were present immediately prior to his myocardial infarction would have been a significant contributing factor to this event.” The officer had shown how his heart attack was due, at least in part, to his employment as an officer. Thus, he was able to obtain Workers’ compensation benefits.

GML § 207-c

GML § 207-c provides for the payment of an officer’s full salary and the cost of all medical treatment and hospital care for an individual injured or taken ill as the result of the performance of his/her job duties. This extends to medical bills that are not even part of the injury which the officer sustains in the line of duty.  Under the current standard, an employee is eligible for the benefit as long as they have an injury while in the performance of or takes ill as a result of, any duty within the range of their duties. The focus here is what duty a police officer is engaged in when the cardiac injury occurs. The injury must emanate from the officer’s performance while in the line of duty for GML 207-c to qualify. Therefore, an officer may sometimes be entitled to both GML 207-c and Worker’s Compensation benefits, but not always.

The application of these benefits can best be understood using the following example:

A police officer has a stroke while subduing a criminal who attempted to assault that officer. The officer’s treating physician cites the strenuous activity of restraining the criminal as the contributing factor which caused the heart attack. This stroke was caused by the officer’s employment with the police department, and it emanated from the performance of his duties. Therefore, he would also be entitled to benefits under GML 207-c.

However, if the heart attack occurred once the officer was off duty then that officer may only be entitled to Worker’s Compensation benefits because it did not occur during the performance of his duties.

In the event that an officer receives both Worker’s Compensation and GML  207-c benefits there are some nuances to keep in mind:

  • The Department may be entitled to reimbursement of the salary paid under GML 207-c from the Worker’s Compensation claim associated with the cardiovascular injury.
  • If an officer is receiving Worker’s Compensation benefits associated with the cardiovascular injury the Department is only obligated to pay the difference in salary if GML 207-c applies.
  • GML 207-c would cover all medical expenses not associated with the Worker’s Compensation claim.

Please follow up with your treating physician if you feel that your work as a police officer is contributing to a cardiovascular problem. Given the increased risks of cardiovascular issues posed to all officers, we would encourage you to make sure that you are well versed in these benefits should the worst occur. Feel free to contact our office at 631-665-0609 if you would like to learn more.

[1] Zimmerman FH Cardiol Rev. 2012 Jul-Aug; 20(4):159-66.

[2] Id.

NY's Raise the Age Law Crossroads Detention Center

NY’s Raise the Age Law Creates Obstacles

NY’s Raise the Age Law progressed to its’ next phase on October 1st by raising the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18 years old. This means that the juvenile detention system will be taking on 17 year olds who have potentially committed dangerous crimes.

Previously, 16 and 17 year olds facing felony charges were tried at criminal court and were sent to Rikers. With this new law they will be processed through family court and new youth courts and be sent to Crossroads detention center run by the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) or the Horizon juvenile center, run by the Correction Department.

After the first phase of Raise the Age centers saw a rise of assault on staff members and more than 25% rise in contraband, including weapons and illegal substances. David Hansell, ACS chief believes that the rise in contraband is in part due to their increased supervision in hopes to avoid violent situations that could occur due to weapons and illegal drugs.

ACS has plans to implement a new behavior management plan that rewards good behavior with perks such as more phone time. The Administration for Children’s Services will also be assuming management over the Horizon juvenile center, with plans to implement these new behavior tactics.

Another issue, one not expected, was overcrowding at ACS’s Nicholas Scoppetta Children’s Center as teens were sent there for housing needs and not detention as their families refused to take them back in.

Officials have been preparing for a year for this shift but still worry about potentially violent 16 & 17 year olds in less-restrictive environments and what that could mean for the safety of staff and other children in the facilities.

Sean Riordan Honored by NYCD Emerald Society

Sean Riordan Honored by NYCD Emerald Society

MDASR Partner Sean Riordan was honored by the New York City Correction Department Emerald Society as 2019 Honorary Member of the Year. Sean is an outspoken advocate for First Responders, having joined with advocacy groups and Congressional leaders to help pass legislation that affords greater health care and benefits to men and women that respond to emergency situations. Mr. Riordan is also very involved in the Irish-American community. As Past-President of the Nassau County Brehon Law Society, Board Member of the NYC Brehon Law Society and a member of The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Long Island, Sean has been an advocate for human and civil rights in Northern Ireland and a proponent of the continued peace process. We are proud of Sean’s commitment to fighting for the rights of injured workers in need.

Nassau COBA

Nassau COBA Retains MDASR as Disability Counsel

On Wednesday, September 25, 2019 Nassau COBA‘s Board of Governors unanimously voted to retain Sean Riordan and the Law Firm of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan to act as disability counsel for Nassau Corrections Officer Benevolent Association.

MDASR has represented Nassau COBA members in their claims for Workers’ Compensation, Disability Pensions, and Social Security Disability benefits for well over a decade. Over the years we have worked hand-in-hand with Nassau COBA to create a “visitors ¾ bill”, successfully opposed unfair Workers’ Compensation law changes and lobbied for additional benefits for 9/11 First Responders. During this partnership MDASR has been at the forefront of litigation that has expanded the parameters of coverage for Officers claiming ¾ injuries under 607-C of the Retirement & Social Security Law and has created legal precedent which helps Correction Officers throughout the State of New York.

Effective October 1, 2019, as Disability Counsel MDASR will:

  • Waive representation fee ($2,000 savings) for Nassau COBA members for on-the-job occurrences that have a NYS Workers’ Compensation claim
  • Waive representation fee ($2,000 savings) for COBA members who have a permanent injury or illness unrelated to their employment.
  • Help draft and lobby disability legislation on the federal, state and local levels.
  • Provide COBA members 24-Hour Access to an MDASR attorney in the event of an emergency related to the injury of a member.
  • Provide Nassau COBA members free disability consultations.

MDASR looks forward to working with Nassau COBA and providing them with Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability and Disability Pension representation.

2019 African Union Day

MDASR Sponsors African Union Day Celebration

MDASR was proud to sponsor and attend the African Union Day Celebration held at Mercy College on September 9th. The event marked the inaugural “Daylight of Africa” celebration and was dedicated to Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal and US Soldier Private Emmanual Mensah of Ghana for their exemplary leadership and sacrifices. The African Union Day Foundation’s mission is to encourage investment, socio-economic development, and innovation in Africa. We were proud to sponsor this event and look forward to continuing our relationship with this great organization.

Line of duty officers

New Bill to Protect Families of Line of Duty Tragedies

Partner Sean Riordan has worked closely with State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, NYC DEA VP Paul DiGiacomo and line of duty widow, Pai Xia Chen to pass a new bill that would ensure the children of uniformed personnel born after their death, with reproductive technology, are covered under their Social Security Benefits.

Detective Wenjian Liu was fatally shot in 2014 in an ambush that resulted in his and his partner Rafael Ramos untimely death. Det. Liu’s wife of three months had his sperm preserved the night of the incident. She gave birth to his miracle child with the help of in-vitro fertilization in 2017. After applying for Social Security benefits to support their daughter, she was denied under federal law. Currently, New York’s inheritance laws do not include children that are conceived this way and do not recognize the child as his “biological” child. Det. Liu did not give written consent for the use of his sperm or file with the Surrogate Court within 7 months of his death. Therefore, his daughter is not legally protected under his benefits.

The Detectives Endowment Association, Sen. Gounardes, Sean Riordan and Paul DiGiacomo worked tirelessly to create a bill that would include children born this way to be covered under their parents’ benefits. They argue that the federal law must change and evolve with the technology that is now available in reproductive assistance. Allowing widows to create the family with their deceased spouses and legally acknowledging them as biological children who automatically receive benefits.

We thank Senator Gounardes for working with us on this legislation and making it a priority to protect uniformed personnel and their families. We look forward to working with Assemblyman Abbate to pass the bill and fight for the rights of these line of duty children.

To read the full article click here

Work injury leading to opioid addiction

Workers’ Compensation and the Opioid Epidemic

Overuse of pain killers create an opioid addiction

Abuse of opioid prescriptions can lead to addiction
Pain medication for a work-related injury can lead to opioid addiction

Countless families across the United States deal with the catastrophic effects of the opioid epidemic every day. According to the New York State Department of Health, in 2016 there were over 3,000 opioid overdose deaths in New York State alone. Although not every case is eligible for workers' compensation, individuals who were prescribed opioids after a work related injury may be entitled to substantial benefits if such prescriptions contributed to an overdose.

In 2007, our firm represented a client in a workers' compensation case following a motor vehicle collision. Our client had multiple herniated discs and his doctor prescribed opioids for pain relief. Unfortunately, during the years after his injury our client developed an addiction to his prescription opioids and passed away from an overdose. Although our client had not received a workers' compensation prescription in multiple years, we proved his overdose was related to his workers' compensation case because his underlying opioid addiction began with his workers' compensation opioid prescriptions. As a result, our client’s family will receive reimbursement for funeral expenses and our client’s minor children will receive a weekly benefit until at least their 18th birthday.

If you are struggling with an opioid addiction, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Additionally, if you or a loved one developed an opioid addiction as a result of a work related injury, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Please contact our office at (866) 557-7500 or visit our website to schedule a free consultation regarding any workers' compensation, pension, or disability matter.

Ryan J. McIntyre, Esq.
Associate Attorney

Partner Sean Riordan featured on Nassau COBA Monthly Podcast

Correction Officers Workers’ Comp – What you need to know

Listen to Nassau COBA's monthly podcast to learn more

Partner Sean Riordan was interviewed on the Nassau County Correction Officers Benevolent Association's podcast: COBA Monthly. Host, and NC COBA President, Brian Sullivan and Sean discussed Workers' Comp benefits available for officers injured in the course of their duty and the procedures to follow when you are injured on the job. This includes filling out the proper paper work to begin your workers' compensation claim, obtaining the necessary treatment your doctor prescribes for your injury and hurdles that you may face throughout the process. Sean highlights the process of negotiations with the workers' compensation board and insurance companies, while working with injured workers to get the compensation they deserve.

Sean also discussed the legal elements that a Correction Officer must prove in order to receive 3/4’s retirement benefits due to a permanent disability. Retirement Law Section 607-C benefits were highlighted in the conversation and Sean discussed the various cases currently being litigated which may impact 3/4’s benefits.

MDASR has worked closely with the Nassau Correction Officers in an effort to protect and progress the benefit rights of those who are injured on the job. If you have been injured while working as a corrections officer you may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. Our attorneys have successfully litigated virtually every type of claim that can come before the Workers' Compensation Board. We have successfully obtained millions of dollars in monetary benefits for our clients. If you have been hurt on the job and have lost time from work, you may qualify to receive a portion of your lost wages and medical expenses. We are dedicated to protecting people who are injured on the job and work our hardest to see that they are justly compensated. Call our office today at (866) 557-7500 to set up a free consultation.

COBA Monthly Podcast August 2019 – Correction Officers Workers’ Comp