Injured New Hampshire Brewery Worker Given Another Chance on Benefits

May 5, 2009

The New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Board (CAB) erred when it ruled that an Anheuser-Busch brewery worker was not entitled to benefits for his asbestos-related lung condition because he had failed to timely notify his employer of his occupational disease.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that Georage Gamas deserves another chance to state his case for workers compensation benefits.

Gamas worked as a laborer for Anheuser-Busch at its Merrimack brewery for more than 20 years until 2001. In September 2006, he filed a notice with his former employer claiming that he suffered from asbestosis that was causally related to his work at the brewery.

The state compensation board said he had waited too long to file his notice. The CAB concluded that Gamas knew or should have known of his claimed lung condition and its relationship to his employment at Anheuser-Busch by May 23, 2004. The CAB ruled that Gamas’ claim was barred because it had not been filed within two years of that date.

But the state Supreme Court has reversed that decision and sent the case back for further review.

The high court found that Anheuser-Busch received timely actual notice of Gamas’ injury by May 23, 2004 in doctor’s reports and three months later, in August 2004, when Gamas gave a deposition in a civil suit against the company indicating that he suffered from an asbestos-related lung condition related to his work. By his own admission, Anheuser-Busch’s environmental safety manager was present at the deposition and conceded to the CAB that he was “put on notice” of Gamas’ asbestos claim.

The high court found that CAB’s factual finding that Anheuser-Busch did not have actual notice within the two-year time limit was contrary to the record and unreasonable.

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