West Virginia’s Supreme Court has thrown 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 exposure to cancer-causing chemicals on the job.
In a Wednesday decision, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that Chapman Corp. was responsible for a claim for 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 many chemicals during his 39-year career, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016.
The Workers’ Claims Administrator denied Kemp’s application for benefits in May 2019, but the state Office of Workers’ Compensation Judge reversed the decision in late 2020, a decision that was subsequently upheld by a review board.
Doctors who reviewed the case for the employer concluded that the evidence did not point to an occupational cause of the development of the disease and that Mr. Kemp fit the typical profile for a leukemia diagnosis among the general population due to age and other factors.
However, doctors for the appellant believed that evidence pointed to a link between the illness and chemicals in the workplace.
The Supreme Court, in rejecting the employer’s appeal, found that Kemp presented substantial evidence showing that his significant exposure to benzene throughout his career was likely a strong factor in his development of leukemia.
The court ruled that the workers’ comp judge and the review board did not err in finding Kemp’s compensation claim compensable.