NAWCJ

THE 13th ANNUAL NAWCJ JUDICIARY COLLEGE



By Douglas Gott
Chief Administrative Law Judge
Bowling Green, KY

 

The 13th annual NAWCJ Judicial College is scheduled for August 22-24, 2022. If you have never been to the college, you are missing the ultimate gathering of workers’ compensation judges from across the country. It is an opportunity to obtain the best available training and education for adjudicating workers’ compensation claims. If you have been to the college before, you already know this, and further know that the College is new and fresh each year, and provides continued opportunity to grow into our profession and benefit from networking with colleagues. So whether a new judge or a seasoned veteran, please join us at the Orlando World Center Marriott in August. We promise a safe and meaningful program. The agenda for the college follows; a link to register is at the end. (There is a separate article in this month’s issue on scholarships available to attend the College.)

Program Agenda

 

Monday, August 22, 2022

8:00 – 8:50 am Registration and Information
Outside of Grand Ballrooms 1 – 6, Convention Level

National Workers’ Compensation Judiciary College
Limited to Workers’ Compensation Adjudicators and Regulators only.
Grand Ballrooms 4 – 6, Convention Level

8:50 – 9:00 am Welcome and Introductions

9:00 – 10:00 am Common Writing Pitfalls from an Appellate Court’s Viewpoint

Panel:

Honorable Michael W. Alvey
Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Board
Frankfort, Kentucky

Honorable Neera Bahl
Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation
Atlanta, Georgia

Honorable Timothy W. Conner
Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board
Knoxville, Tennessee

This session shall involve identifying common mistakes, errors, and pitfalls, in decisions and orders issued by adjudicators. The panel will provide suggestions for writing more effective decisions, and creating/preserving the appellate record.

10:00 – 10:50 am Do Summary Judgments and other Civil Procedural Rules have a role in Workers’ Compensation Cases?

Panel:

Honorable Bruce E. Moore
Kansas Department of Labor-Division of Workers’ Compensation
Salina, Kansas

Honorable Thomas Hedler
Florida Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims
West Palm Beach, Florida

Honorable Shannon Bruno Bishop
Louisiana Workforce Commission Office of Workers’ Compensation
Harahan, Louisiana

Procedural rules in workers’ compensation proceedings vary widely from state to state. In many states, workers’ compensation acts provide their own statutory procedures and requirements that may differ in meaningful respects from those governing other civil proceedings. In some states, there are more discovery tools available, and workers’ compensation claims may be addressed by motions for summary judgment. In other jurisdictions, “notice pleadings” are the rule, discovery is constrained, and dispositive motions are not available. What does your state do? What are the pros and cons to each approach? This panel will consider whether and to what extent state civil procedural rules apply, or should apply, in the adjudication of workers’ compensation claims.

10:50 – 11:00 am Break

11:00 – 12:00 am Evidence for Judges-Judicial Control over Interrogation of Witnesses and Presentation of Evidence (The Do’s and Don’ts)

Speaker:

Professor Mitchell Frank
Barry University School of Law
Orlando, Florida

This program offers a wide range of practical tips for judges who must rule in the moment from the bench regarding frequent objections. Topics include relevancy, hearsay, business records, leading questions, improperly refreshing a witness’s memory, foundation, judicial notice, and more.

12:00 – 12:50 pm Annual Business Meeting and Lunch
Grand Ballroom 1 & 2 Convention Level

12:50 – 1:50 pm Workers’ Compensation Issues in Colleges and Universities- Should Student-Athletes be Covered “Employees”?

Panel:

Dr. Norma Goonen
Florida International University
Miami, Florida

Honorable Sylvia Medina-Shore
Division of Administrative Hearings
Miami, Florida

The serious and sometimes life-long injuries that some student-athletes suffer as they play for their colleges and universities has been the subject of growing concern in the past two decades, while the revenue produced by college athletics has reached enormous sums. This presentation will summarize the current situation, key court decisions and laws, philosophical/ethical perspectives, and include a discussion as to how student-athletes can be regarded as employees to extend workers’ compensation insurance benefits as a key protection.

1:50 – 2:00 pm Break

Track One – Practical Skills
2:00 – 5:00 pm Grand Ballrooms 4 – 6, Convention Level

2:00 – 2:10 pm Announcements

2:10 – 3:00 pm Type and Duration of Medical
Treatment for Common Minor Back, Neck, and Shoulder Injuries and Factors that Influence Treatment and Return to Work

Speaker:

Dr. Robert Chapa
North East Florida Occupational Health and Wellness
Jacksonville, Florida

In many orthopedic injuries, there is interconnectivity of body components and the potential for multiple possible symptom causes. Symptoms in the upper extremities and cervical spine may indicate various pathology, disputes of etiology, and challenges in both diagnosis and recovery. A shoulder or arm symptom may suggest pathology in the extremity or the spine. Similarly, spine symptoms could relate to either extremity or spinal pathology. Further complication may come from sensitive diagnostic testing that allows visualization and confirmation of pathology. Too often, a particular specialist (spine or extremity) will identify such pathology, perform surgery, and yet symptoms persist. This does not mean that pathology did not exist, but that it was not the cause of complaints. This pattern of singular anatomical focus can lead to multiple referrals, surgeries, and frustration. Dr. Chapa will endeavor to guide discussion on such etiology challenges.

3:00 – 3:10 pm Break

3:10 – 4:00 pm Ethical Conundrums for Judges

Speaker:

Blan L. Teagle
Judicial Qualifications Commission
Tallahassee, Florida

Judges, hearing officers, administrative law judges, commissioners, and others serving in a judicial role face ethical dilemmas unlike those of lawyers. Conversations between parties and attorneys, social media accounts, participation in community, and political activities, and social gatherings can present unique ethical challenges for judges. In this program, you will hear real-like examples of ethical dilemmas faced by judges and the manner in which those dilemmas were resolved.

4:00 – 4:10 pm Break

4:10 – 5:00 pm Changing Job Markets and Vocational Expert Considerations in Permanent Total Disability Workers’ Compensation Claims

Panel:

John Roberts
Roberts Disability Consultants
Jacksonville, Florida

Becky Balter
Balter Rehabilitation Advocates
Lutz, Florida

These experts will explore the general vocational principles involved in workers’ compensation disability claims, including return to work, transferable skill analysis, past relevant employment, labor market surveys and use of computer programs for job searches.

Track Two –
SAWCA Regulator Roundtable

2:00 – 4:30 pm Crystal Ballroom G1, Convention Level

For the more seasoned adjudicators, Monday afternoon offers the opportunity for a doctorate-level exposure to comparative law in workers’ compensation. The Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA) will present its 11th Annual Regulator Roundtable. Regulators and Administrators from across the country will discuss hot topics challenging workers’ compensation systems. Attendees will hear perspectives, initiatives, problems, and solutions.

5:00 – 6:00 pm NAWCJ and SAWCA Reception
Grand Ballrooms 1 & 2, Convention Level

The perfect closure for the first day of our NAWCJ program is the official welcoming reception for adjudicator attendees, regulators, and associate members. Following a full day of edification and instruction, this is the chance to mingle and unwind with old friends and new acquaintances from across the continent.

DAY TWO

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

8:00 – 5:00 pm Registration and Information
Outside of Grand Ballrooms 1 – 6, Convention Level

8:45 – 9:45 am Live Surgery – Lower Extremity Surgery
Palms Ballroom – Canary, Convention Level

Surgery Moderator:

Joseph D. Funk, DPM
Orlando Orthopaedic Center Orlando, FL

Surgeon:

Sophia P. Davis, DO
Orlando Orthopaedic Center Orlando, FL

The 15th Annual Orlando Orthopaedic Center Live Surgery Event offers a unique interactive look into an operating room as Sophia P. Davis, DO, performs a lower extremity (foot/ankle) surgery. This surgical procedure will stream live from the Orlando Orthopaedic Outpatient Surgery Center with the help of moderator Joseph D. Funk, DPM.

Drs. Davis and Funk will explain the procedure step-by- step and answer questions from the audience. The goal of the presentation is to provide an in-depth education on lower extremity anatomy, all aspects of the joint that will be impacted by the surgery and examine how the injury and recovery period effect day-to-day activity and employment restrictions (including typical length of light duty and estimated maximum medical improvement (MMI) timeline).

National Workers’ Compensation Judiciary College
Limited to Workers’ Compensation Adjudicators and Regulators only.
Grand Ballrooms 4 – 6, Convention Level

10:00 – 10:50 am The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Strange, Interesting, and Pivotal Workers’ Compensation Cases From 2021-2022

Speaker:

Honorable Wesley G. Marshall
Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
Richmond, Virginia

Commissioner Marshall will lead a lively, interactive discussion of bizarre, interesting, and pivotal workers’ compensation cases from across the Country for 2021 and 2022. There will be plenty of opportunities to ponder and learn. Don’t miss the chance to weigh in and offer your opinion on why some workers’ compensation courts got it right or got it wrong!

10:50 – 11:00 am Break

11:00 – 11:50 am Delayed Treatment in Workers’ Compensation: Are there any Procedural/Legal Avenues to Ensure Prompt and Accurate Care?

Panel:

Honorable David B. Torrey
Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

Honorable Douglas Gott
Kentucky Department of Workers Claims
Frankfurt, Kentucky

An essential purpose of workers’ compensation is to deliver prompt and effective medical care. This purpose can be disrupted, and even defeated, when disputes arise over the reasonableness, necessity, and work-injury causal connection of this care. This panel will review and identify procedural and legal devices which exist among states devised to address the issue. The speakers will identify devices in their own states and in other jurisdictions, and make suggestions for how workers’ compensation judges in individual cases can seek to resolve disputes over medical care and help make the system perform this essential function.

11:50 – 12:00 pm Break

12:00 – 1:00 pm Lunch
Grand Ballroom 1 & 2
Convention Level

1:00 – 2:00 pm Mental Disease and Its Effects on Workers’ Compensation Injuries and Treatment

Panel:

Dr. Les Kertay
Axion Medical, LLC
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Nancy Kelly
Averitt Express
Cookeville, Tennessee

This program will overview the challenges of recovery and functional rehabilitation in conjunction with the undeniable emotional and psychological individuality of injured workers. Perceptions, motivations, and success may be highly dependent upon an understanding of the workplace injury and impediments. Once there is a grasp of the physiological probabilities, personal progress may depend extensively on the injured worker’s understanding of expectations, commitment, and the contributions of the team that surrounds, supports, and facilitates them.  State of mental and emotional well-being is critical to the success of the restorative and rehabilitative process. The conjunction of providers, payers, and injured workers with a focus on goal-oriented progress and restoration considers the whole person and the maximization of function.

2:00 – 2:10 pm Break

2:10 – 3:10 pm How to Effectively Use Technology in Workers’ Compensation Hearings and Mediations

Panel:

Honorable Joshua Davis Baker
Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
Nashville, Tennessee

Honorable Stephanie Kinney
Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims
Kentucky

Judges Stephanie Kinney of Kentucky and Joshua Baker of Tennessee will discuss the use of technology in trying and mediating cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. This session will present insight on the types of software platforms used to conduct hearings and mediations, tips on using the platforms, and the “dos and don’ts” when conducting a trial electronically.

3:10 – 4:00 pm  Undocumented Workers and Challenges to Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Speaker:

Shannon Cambridge Lindsey, Attorney at Law
Slidell, Louisiana

Nearly every state recognizes the right of the undocumented worker to access and participate in the workers’ compensation system. The recognition of this entitlement is widely accepted by lawmakers and courts as necessary to protect the integrity of our workers’ compensation systems, to promote workplace safety, to avoid the creation of added financial incentives for those who seek to knowingly hire undocumented labor, and to curtail the burden of cost-shifting upon the taxpaying public. While our legal systems openly maintain a principled commitment to equal access, measures affecting the tacit and even explicit abridgment of these rights are also noted with increasing frequency. The impact of these measures is compounded by the challenges already experienced by injured undocumented workers as a function of their practical reality within society. This presentation will explore the various impediments faced by injured undocumented workers navigating our workers compensation systems.

DAY THREE

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

8:00 – 11:50 am Registration and Information
Outside of Hall of Cities – New York & New Orleans, Convention Level

National Workers’ Compensation Judiciary College
Limited to Workers’ Compensation Adjudicators and Regulators only.

Hall of Cities – New York & New Orleans, Convention Level

9:00 – 9:50 am How to Properly Handle Human Resource/Personnel Issues for those Judges who Manage Staff

Speaker:

Honorable Sheral Kellar
Louisiana Workforce Commission
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Adjudicating cases may seem like an easy task when compared to managing staff. Judges who manage staff may encounter various personnel issues related to poor attendance, poor job performance, conflicts among personnel, etc. In this session, the speaker will discuss common issues and how to properly handle the simplest to the more difficult human resource issues that may arise in your office.

9:50 – 10:00 am Break

10:00 – 11:00 am How to Stay Safe Inside and Outside the Hearing and Mediation Rooms

Speaker:

U.S. Marshal/Chief Inspector Timothy Hughes
United States Marshals Service

It seems as though civil discourse has been largely abandoned in favor of angry confrontation. Workers’ Compensation proceedings are inherently stressful and emotional, with futures, livelihoods, and the unknown needs of future medical care at stake. Judges, hearing officers, mediators, and their respective staffs should be aware of the risks posed by emotional litigants, their attorneys, and those who share their views, both in the context of hearings and mediations, and in the days and hours before and after those encounters. A representative of the United States Marshal’s Office, tasked with establishing and maintaining judicial security in state and federal courts, will offer insights in how to protect yourself, your family, your staff, and your co-workers in this high-stress and risky environment.

11:00 – 12:00 pm  Promoting Professionalism Inside and Outside the Hearing Room

Panel:

Honorable Brian Anthony
Office of the Judge of Compensation Claims
Tampa, Florida

Honorable Margaret Kerr
Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims
Miami, Florida

Honorable John Moneyham
Judges of Compensation Claims
Panama City Beach, Florida

A Judge’s conduct is in full view of the attorneys and litigants during a hearing and oftentimes positively or negatively affects the litigants and the workers’ compensation system. However, does a Judge’s conduct outside the hearing room have any importance when not under the microscope of the litigants? This presentation will discuss relevant cases and judicial conduct rules as well as provide practical tips to effectively address judicial conduct slip-ups while in the hearing room and when undertaking personal and extrajudicial activities.

ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMMING:

8:30 – 3:15 pm Conference on Multi-State Workers’ Compensation Laws
Grand Ballroom 7A & 1 – 6 Convention Level

Sponsored by the Workers’ Compensation Defense Institute, this program will provide insight into the workers’ compensation systems of Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Employers, attorneys, claims handlers, and state administrators from these states will discuss the significant developments and distinctions of their respective jurisdictions.

To register, click here www.nawcj.org/registration.