A man disabled after contracting Legionnaires’ disease he said was caused by exposure to contaminated water on the job is entitled to workers’ compensation indemnity and medical benefits, a Pennsylvania appellate court ruled in late March.
Business Insurance – a publication of Crain Communications — reported that in June 2013, Shawn Gallen of Nestle USA Inc. experienced flu-like systems and sought treatment at a hospital, where he was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ Disease. The illness affected Gallen’s speech and left him in a wheelchair and needing assistance.
Gallen sued Nestle in September 2013, saying he was infected while working on machines that contained contaminated water. According to court records, Nestle denied the allegations and said Gallen could not prove the disease was a result of work-related exposure.
A workers’ comp judge, however, ruled after hearing testimony that Gallen’s illness likely was caused by exposure on the job. The judge determined that Gallen was temporarily totally disabled and entitled to workers’ comp benefits, and the state’s Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board affirmed that decision, court documents show. Nestle filed an appeal, but a three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania unanimously upheld the judge’s decision.