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Internal Investigation’s Privilege Upheld by New York Federal Court

The privilege boundaries of an internal investigation cause restless nights for any lawyer tasked with keeping an internal investigation privileged. On Thursday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Magistrate Judge Locke) largely upheld the privilege of an internal investigation performed by Company A concerning conduct by Company B that potentially raised concerns relating to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Specifically Company B is a Chinese corporation that markets and distributes medical devices, among which include devices manufactured by Company...
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OSHA Targets Facilitating Arrest of Injured Worker as Potential Retaliation

Last week, a company and its CEO moved to dismiss a unique complaint brought against them by OSHA in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. OSHA alleges that the Company and its CEO unlawfully retaliated against an injured worker by initiating a law enforcement investigation into the worker’s identity that led to his arrest. OSHA alleges that the worker “would not have been arrested … if he had not reported his injury to [the company] and caused the OSHA inquiry to be initiated. The complaint alleges that while the injured worker was hospitalized, the...
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Federal Jurisdiction Lacking for Case Alleging Exposure to Hazards from Pipeline Spill

A Utah federal court rejected an oil and gas company’s bid to keep a lawsuit alleging that a crude oil pipeline spill caused a plaintiff’s acute myeloid leukemia in federal court last week. The company argued that the federal court had federal question jurisdiction over the suit, which alleged negligence, strict liability for abnormally dangerous or ultra-hazardous activities, and negligent misrepresentation. The oil and gas company argued that the plaintiff’s incorporation of facts and conclusions reached by a PHMSA report “inevitably raises important issues of...
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Contracts for Multi-Employer Projects Should Clearly Address Local Workers’ Comp Regimes

Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana granted summary judgment to a refinery owner and two of that company’s employees in a suit brought by a worker who had been injured while working at the refinery.  Specifically, the worker suffered chemical burns when a substance sprayed onto the worker and through his personal protective equipment.  The worker was employed by a contractor and not the refinery owner directly.  The worker brought several claims, but of most importance here are the worker’s negligence claims against the refinery owner and two...
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Eleventh Circuit Clarifies Automatic Entitlement Provision of Black Lung Benefits Act

Yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit resolved an ambiguity regarding when miners’ survivors can recover benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act.  Pursuant to the Act, survivors can recover in two ways.  First, they can prove that the miner died from a lung disease caused by pneumoconiosis.  Alternatively, they can proceed under the “automatic entitlement” provision (30 U.S.C. 932(l)), which states that “In no case shall the eligible survivors of a miner who was determined to be eligible to receive benefits … at the time of his or her death be required to file a...
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OSHA Announces Highest Proposed Fine of 2019 (More than $1.3 Million)

OSHA announced a major proposed fine of more than $1.3 million earlier this week for a metal heat treatment company in Ohio. The proposed citations and penalties allege that the company exposed employees to atmospheric, thermal, electrical, and mechanical hazards and include 25 willful, serious, and other-than-serious violations.  The allegations relate to confined space issues, falls, machine guarding, respiratory protection, chemical exposure, electrical equipment, failure to provide personal protective equipment, and training failures.  The proposed fine is the highest reported proposed...
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Worker Cannot Maintain Civil Tort Claims Against Car Manufacturer for Alleged Exposure to Formaldehyde

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi granted summary judgment to a car manufacturer in a case brought by a worker injured at the car manufacturer’s plant.  The worker alleges the manufacturer exposed him to formaldehyde-gas emissions on three separate dates that caused him to develop epilepsy. He brought claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, which forced the court to consider whether the intentional tort exception to Mississippi’s workers’ compensation regime applied. If it did not,...
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