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Tentative significant decisions

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March 2023

Occupational Disease – COVID-19
Parting company with our judge, the majority of the Board concluded that the worker's spouse did not prove that her husband fatally contracted COVID-19 as a proximate result of the distinctive conditions of his assembly line work at Tyson Foods instead of elsewhere in his everyday life. Consequently, the Board rejected the claim and denied his spouse's application for surviving spousal benefits. Our labor Board member dissented, contending that the preponderance of the direct and circumstantial evidence supports an opposite conclusion.
In re J. Guadalupe Olivera Dec'd, Dckt. No. 21 13955 (March 9, 2023) [dissent]

April 2023

Occupational Disease – COVID-19
While determining that the worker likely contracted COVID as a flight attendant from a specific airline passenger, our judge denied her claim on the basis that she did not establish that her illness arose naturally and proximately due to the distinctive conditions of her job. Parting company with our judge, and distinguishing cases that provide that "communicable diseases are generally a function of everyday life rather than a distinctive condition of employment," the majority of the Board determined that the flight attendant's job-specific conditions were distinctive and "caused her to be in direct contact with the COVID-19 virus in a way that was distinguishable from her exposure to its presence at any other place or time."
In re Shannon M. Bean, Dckt. No. 21 18503 (April 24, 2023) [dissent]