Denial of Worker’s Compensation Benefits Affirmed Upon Plaintiff Failure to Meet Statutory Requirements Court of Appeals of North Carolina, June 19, 2018
NORTH CAROLINA – The plaintiff Edmund Preslar filed for Workers’ Compensation Benefits claiming that he was entitled to compensation under the statute for his development of asbestosis attributed to his work at the Johns Manville Marchville facility from 1967-1968. The commission denied his claim stating that he had not worked long enough to be eligible for benefits under the statute. The plaintiff appealed and his representative was substituted after he passed away from a non-asbestos cause.
On appeal, the court noted the standard for commission appeals required that “1) whether the findings of fact are supported by competent evidence, and 2) whether the conclusions of law are justified by these findings. The plaintiff relied on his co-worker who testified that the plaintiff worked approximately 6 months at the facility. However, the commission found the plaintiff’s social security statements to be more credible which indicated the plaintiff’s work span was less than the statutory requirement. The plaintiff also argued that evidence showing that he had pleural plaques should be considered a separate disease process not governed by the time restrictions set forth by the statute. The court stated that even the plaintiff was correct, he ultimately failed to establish the occupational disease. Moreover, his expert relied upon testimony that the plaintiff worked at the Marchville facility for 6 months when in fact the social security statements evidenced a shorter time frame. Consequently, the court affirmed the commission’s decision.