New case: Apportionment in Occupational Disease claims

The claimant, Maria R. Natale, alleged that as a result of her occupational exposures while employed by the respondent she suffered from permanent residual disability. Six insurance carriers wrote coverage for the employer over the period of employment (1980 to 2001). Normally, the Judge of compensation will rely on the “Bond Doctrine” and hold that the “last carrier on the risk” is responsible for the overall disability.

However, in the Natale case, the claimant had “actual manifestation” of her “erosive osteoarthritic condition” during three specific periods of her employment. The “actual manifestation” was demonstrated by periods of actual treatment while employed (rare in a cumulative occupational disability case).

The Appellate Court found that the apportionment approach (rather than the Bond approach) was appropriate because the claimant’s disability was ‘fixed, measurable, and arrested’ during periods of manifestation and those manifestations occurred during specific periods of coverage.

Link to full case: (caution – link is to PDF): Natale v. Celanese.

Greg Lois is the managing partner of LOIS LLC and dedicates his practice to defending employers and carriers in New York and New Jersey workers' compensation claims. Greg is the author of a popular series of "Handbooks" on workers' compensation, and is the co-author of the 2016 & 2017 Lexis-Nexis New Jersey Workers' Compensation Practice Guide. Greg can be reached at 201-880-7213 or glois@loisllc.com