Upcoming Continuing Legal Education Opportunities

By Eleasa Allen

Our section just wrapped up its first CLE of the Bar Year on December 4, 2019.  That CLE program provided an overview of the Workers’ Compensation Act, directed at those attorneys who are new to the practice.  The program covered the fundamentals of working within Chapter 97 and covered numerous topics, including: relevant definitions, defenses, settlement, litigation, and navigating the Act’s governing body, the Industrial Commission.  Special thanks to Jeanette Byrum and Sherman Criner for planning this program and to the following speakers:  Elias Admassu, Emily Baucom, Angela Craddock, Casey Day, Meredith Henderson, Tracey Jones, Dawn Lane, Elizabeth Ligon and Paul McCoy.   If you missed this program, a video replay has been scheduled for March 10, 2020 at the Bar Center in Cary.

The Workers’ Compensation Section’s Annual Meeting and spring CLE program will be held February 6-7, 2020 at the Grandover Resort and Conference Center in Greensboro. Co-planners Sarah Blair and Cameron Simmons have designed this program as a one-stop shop that will cover case law updates, foreshadowing of the upcoming extended benefits cases, and the overlap between employment law and the Workers’ Compensation Act, among other topics.  The program has been approved for 9 Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) and Certified Paralegal Education (CPE) hours and includes 3 hours of Ethics/Professional Responsibility, 1 hour of Substance Abuse/Mental Health, 2 hours of Certified Mediator Education and 1 hour of Technology Training.  The program also qualifies for NC State Bar Workers’ Compensation Law Specialization credit.

See the North Carolina Bar Association website for further details concerning the video replay of the December 4, 2019 program and/or the upcoming Annual Meeting and CLE on February 6-7, 2020.  We look forward to seeing everyone in February!

“Murder on Birchleaf Drive: Trial Strategy for True Crime Lovers”

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When Meredith Fisher discovered her sister Michelle’s brutally beaten and lifeless body on the floor of the master bedroom she shared with her husband Jason, a quest for justice began—one that would ultimately last 12 years and end in the murder conviction of Jason Lynn Young in a Wake County courtroom.

The compelling story is told in Murder on Birchleaf Drive by Poyner Spruill lawyer and NCBA member Steven B. Epstein.

The Jason Young murder case is also now the focus of a 3-hour CLE program Epstein will present on January 10 at the N.C. Bar Center titled “Murder on Birchleaf Drive: Trial Strategy for True Crime Lovers.

Click here to access brochure.  Click here to register.

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NCIC Quarterly Update

Hello Everybody,

The North Carolina Industrial Commission has issued a quarterly update.  A copy of the quarterly update can be accessed here.

What’s New With Your Workers’ Compensation Section?

By Eleasa Allen

Dear Members of the Workers’ Compensation Section:

It is my honor to serve as the chair of the Workers’ Compensation Section Council for the 2019-2020 bar year.  My goals for our Section include building upon and continuing to develop the social/networking opportunities for the members and identifying a pro bono project for the members to support. Our Section has an outstanding group acting on your behalf as officers, Council members, and committee chairs. A full listing of the Council members and committee chairs can be found on the NCBA’s Workers’ Compensation Section webpage.  Please feel free to reach out to any of the Council members, officers and/or me with any suggestions, questions, or concerns.

The Section Council held its first quarterly meeting on Friday, August 16th at the NC Bar Center in Cary. We have a lot of plans for the upcoming year, and I want to highlight some of those here.

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Happy New (Bar) Year!

By Eleasa Allen

July 1 welcomed a new year at the Bar Association.  With this new year, we say “goodbye” and “thank you” to our past council members and leadership.  I am grateful to Immediate Past Chair Holland Ferguson for leadership during the 2018-2019 bar year.  Also, many thanks to the council members who have now completed their three-year terms.

As the new year begins, I look forward to serving as the chair, along with the other officers and council members, of this large and diverse section.  As you may know, the Section leadership includes the following:

Vice Chair Barry Jennings

Immediate Past Chair Holland Ferguson

Secretary Mark Leach

Treasurer Heather Baker

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Industrial Commission Rule Changes Effective Dec. 1, 2018

By Holland Ferguson

The North Carolina Industrial Commission enacted rule changes effective Dec. 1, 2018.  The Commission issued a one-page overview of these changes.  In this one-page overview, the Commission highlighted the changes for filing medical motions and the requirement for insurance carriers, third-party administrators, and self-insured employers to have a primary contact person designated for all workers’ compensation matters.  That person’s contact information must be submitted to the Commission annually on July 1.  A copy of the annotated rule changes can be found here.

Appeal Dismissed for Procedural Errors

By Tara Muller

When appealing a workers’ compensation case, beware of hidden procedural traps. Workers’ compensation rules and appellate rules are two very different animals, according to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Bradley v. Cumberland County (Zachary, J., November 20, 2018). Although the workers’ compensation rules of the Industrial Commission allow service by email when filing a document via its electronic data filing portal (EDFP), not so once the case is elevated to the appellate level. In Bradley, plaintiff filed his Notice of Appeal through the EDFP we all know and love. Understandably, (since nearly all workers’ compensation filings may be served electronically now), the plaintiff then served opposing counsel with the Notice of Appeal via email. However, according to the Court of Appeals, because the appellate rules – not the workers’ compensation rules – apply to appeals, service of the Notice of Appeal by email, and without a proper certificate of service or proof of receipt, was fatal. Appeal dismissed.

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Interested In Assisting With CLE? Let Us Know By Friday

By Holland Ferguson

Dear Section Members,

I hope everyone has had a wonderful summer. As many of you may know, we are in the process of planning two CLEs for our section. Click here for information on the Nov. 30 CLE. Details regarding the other CLE are forthcoming.

In addition, the NCBA has asked if our Section would be interested in assisting in planning a CLE related to social security disability. This CLE is currently set for Jan. 18, 2019 at the Bar Center in Cary. It is not anticipated that this CLE will be an advanced course as it will likely explore new rules/updates, hearing protocol, and hopefully include an ALJ or a panel to answer questions and provide best practices for social security disability. There is some overlap in practice between workers’ compensation and social security disability, so we wanted to inquire and see if anyone in the section was interested in co-planning this social security disability CLE. If you are interested, please reach out to either myself or Kate M. Leahy, Continuing Legal Education Manager for the North Carolina Bar, by Friday, Aug. 31, 2018.


Holland B. Ferguson


Forget To Identify an Issue? No Problem!

By Tara Muller

Question: When a brief writer is drafting Contentions or a Full Commission brief and identifies a compelling argument about an issue which was never raised, what can she do?

Answer: Argue it anyway!

Thanks to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Haulcy v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber (June 5, 2018), parties who fail to raise an issue in the Pre-Trial Agreement or even in the Form 44 to the Full Commission enjoy some well-deserved leniency, if the Industrial Commission deems the issue to be relevant.

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NC Court of Appeals Issues Decisions Analyzing Disability Post-Wilkes

By Elizabeth Ligon

 The Court of Appeals recently released two decisions that analyzed issues relating to disability – specifically, the burden of proving futility – post-Wilkes v. City of Greenville. In Adame v. Aerotek, an unpublished decision, Plaintiff sustained a low back injury in June 2013. After receiving conservative treatment with multiple doctors, Plaintiff was ultimately released with permanent work restrictions of no lifting over 40 pounds, with frequent lifting and carrying of objects weighing up to 25 pounds. Plaintiff sought ongoing temporary total disability benefits, but the Industrial Commission found he was not entitled to indemnity benefits or vocational assistance because Plaintiff failed to meet his burden of proving disability. Plaintiff appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

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