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Case Law Update: Records in Worker’s Compensation

RAG American Coal Co. v. Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, No. 08-1653 (8/5/09) found that the record contained sufficient evidence to support ALJ’s award of Black Lung Disease benefits after finding that claimant suffered from substantial pulmonary/respiratory problems, even though different ALJ had denied claimant’s similar request in earlier application for said benefits. Ct. rejected employer’s argument that prior denial precluded instant award under doctrine of res judicata where record supported ALJ determination that claimant experienced material change in his condition, and where pneumoconiosis is progressive and latent disease. Fact that claimant did not have new exposure to coal dust subsequent to denial of initial claim did not require different result. This seventh circuit case will have an impact on all Illinois worker compensation cases.