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West Virginia appeals court rules electrician’s cancer claim compensable

Posted On: Apr. 6, 2023 2:10 PM CST


West Virginia’s highest court has tossed out an appeal by a company that argued it shouldn’t be forced to compensate an electrician who claims he developed leukemia after decades of workplace exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.  

In a Wednesday decision, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals determined Chapman Corp. was responsible for a compensable workers compensation claim to Teddy Kemp, who says he developed chronic lymphocytic leukemia due to occupational exposure.

Mr. Kemp, a chemical plant electrician who claims he was exposed to numerous chemicals during his 39-year career, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016.

The workers comp claims administrator rejected Mr. Kemp’s benefits petition in May 2019, but the state Workers’ Compensation Office of Judges reversed the decision in late 2020, a determination subsequently upheld by a review board.

Physicians reviewing the matter for the employer concluded the evidence didn’t point toward an occupational cause of disease development and that Mr. Kemp fit the typical profile for a leukemia diagnosis among the general population due to age and other factors.

Doctors for the claimant, however, believed evidence pointed toward a connection between the disease and workplace chemicals.

The high court, in dismissing the employer’s appeal, ruled Mr. Kemp presented ample evidence showing his significant exposure to benzene throughout his career was likely a strong factor in his developing leukemia.

The court determined the workers comp judges and review board did not err in finding Mr. Kemp’s comp claim compensable.