Lucy Hall-Gainer Honored on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The Mary Hall Freedom House (MHFH), located in Sandy Springs, seeks to improve the quality of life of women and women with children by empowering them to break the cycle of addiction, poverty, and homelessness.  The house accomplishes these goals by providing a comprehensive residential recovery program, which caters to the needs of women and women with children.  The MHFH offers its residents substance abuse treatment, mental health and medical care, various types of housing, child daycare, and individual and family counseling.  Since its creation in 1996 the MHFH has helped more than 3,000 women. On Monday, January 19, 2009, (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), MHFH founder, Lucy Hall-Gainer, was honored by the City of Sandy Springs for her accomplishments over the past 12 years.  Ms. Hall-Gainer established the charitable organization in honor of her mother, Mary Hall, who died of alcoholism when Lucy was only six-years-old.  Ms. Hall-Gainer has also received the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Award, Atlanta Magazine’s Women Making a Mark award, and Working Mother Magazine’s Mom That Makes It Happen – Raising the Ruckus award. Four members of the Ramos Law Firm (Tiffany Yamini, Adriana Sola Capifali, Lindsay Nail, and Bridget Williams) paid homage to Ms. Hall-Gainer’s accomplishments on Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday by serving MHFH residents breakfast before the honorary ceremony....

Playing the Percentages – Apportionment of Occupational Disease Claims

In general, the burden of proving an occupational disease is quite heavy.  One must show that a disease was caused by the job and nothing else.  If the disease is one that is suffered by a large portion of the general public, that can be quite a feat. To add insult to injury, the Workers’ Compensation Act includes a statute, O.C.G.A. 34-9-285, which allows for the apportionment of benefits if the injured worker suffers from any conditions other than the occupational disease.  What is meant by that is that if a person contracts an occupational disease, but that same person also suffers from a disease which makes the symptoms from the occupational disease worse, the Administrative Law Judge has the discretion to reduce the employees weekly benefits and medical benefits by the percentage of suffering deemed caused by the condition that is not work-related. The income benefits can be adjusted by either reducing the amount received on a weekly basis, or by reducing the number of weeks that benefits are available.  Take for example a situation in which an employee’s average weekly wage would normally allow for the payment of temporary total disability benefits $500.00 per week.  If the judge then determines that an occupational disease is responsible for sixty percent of an employee’s disability, the judge could rule that the employee is only entitled to $300.00 per week, or, alternatively, the judge may reduce the total number of weeks the employee receives benefits by sixty percent. At first glance, the statute may make sense.  However, it creates a situation in which a judge must actually weigh the evidence...

King Day: A Day On, Not A Day Off for the Ramos Law Firm

On January 19th, four members of the Ramos Law Firm, Tiffany Yamini, Adriana Sola Capifali, Lindsay Nail and Bridget Williams joined the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA) in a volunteer project at the Mary Hall Freedom House.  The Mary Hall Freedom House is a residential center which assists mothers who are battling addiction. The Ramos Law Firm and GABWA volunteers prepared a breakfast for the women and children of Mary Hall Freedom House.  The breakfast began with the singing of various inspirational songs to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday and the personal struggles the ladies of the Mary Hall Freedom House have overcome.  The camaraderie amongst the ladies of the Mary Hall Freedom House was exceptional and it was wonderful to see the special relationship many of the mothers had with one another. The breakfast was followed by a ceremony to honor Lucy Hall-Gainer, who founded the Mary Hall Freedom House.  Ms. Lucy Hall-Gainer was awarded the annual Humanitarian Award by the City of Sandy Springs.  Every year, the City of Sandy Springs recognizes an individual who embodies the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As in the words of Ms. Hall-Gainer, the Mary Hall Freedom House is one of “Sandy Springs’ best-kept secrets.”  The City of Sandy Springs is truly lucky to have an organization which provides a comprehensive program for mothers and children in their community. As a whole the GABWA and Ramos Law Firm volunteers, truly enjoyed the service project and received thanks from all of the ladies at the Mary Hall Freedom House for preparing breakfast. “Volunteering at the Mary...

Recent Court of Appeals Decision – Death Benefits

The Court of Appeals recently published its decision in Sherman Concrete Pipe Co. v. Chinn, 283 Ga. 468 (2008).  Although limited in its application, it is an excellent illustration of an attorney approaching a claim from all permissible angles to achieve a good result for the client. The case arises out of a situation in which a surviving spouse had been paid benefits for approximately 13 years when the Georgia Insurers and Solvency Pool began handling the claim.  The Pool suspended her benefits based on a 1989 amendment to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-13(e).  She then filed a claim asserting, among other things, that the 1989 amendment was unconstitutional.  The matter was eventually heard before the Supreme Court. At issue was the legislative procedure in enacting the 1989 amendment.  Prior to 1989, O.C.G.A. § 34-9-13(e) provided that “the dependency of a partial dependent shall terminate at age 65 or after payment of 400 weeks of benefits, whichever is greater.”  This was in regard to the receipt of death benefits in workers’ compensation matters.  The 1989 amendment provided “the dependency of his spouse and the partial dependents shall terminate at age 65 or after payment of 400 weeks of benefits, whichever occurs first.” The 1989 Act which provided the amendment to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-13(e) carried a title which indicated that all of the changes enacted were basically non-substantive “housekeeping” alterations to the language of the statutes.  It did not indicate that any substantive changes were made.  Clearly, the changes that were made for the 1989 amendment were substantive.  The changes would in some cases greatly limit the amount of benefits available to...

Why Can’t I Recover for Pain and Suffering?

One of the questions we hear all the time is why a claimant cannot recover for their pain and suffering.  The Workers’ Compensation Act provides a number of important benefits to the injured employee but does not allow for pain and suffering.  It can provide income benefits to provide for someone while they are recovering from an injury.  It also provides for medical benefits to affect a cure for the employee.  Additionally, there is a provision for recovery based upon any permanent impairment left after the recovery.  All of these benefits are provided for anyone working for an employer covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act who is injured while working. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, the worker need not prove negligence in order to recover.  There is no premises liability analysis to perform as to superior knowledge of a hazard or even whose fault the accident was.  Further, medical and income benefits are available very quickly. There is, however, a tradeoff.  The Workers’ Compensation Act also provides that the above mentioned remedies are all that is available to the injured employee.  The injured employee, absent a showing of clear intent on the part of the employer, may not pursue a tort claim against the employer to seek additional damages.  That means that pain and suffering and punitive damages are simply not possible for the injured worker against the employer.  It does not matter in the context of the Workers’ Compensation claim that a worker may be subject to tremendous hardship based upon the injury if the employer is paying all of the benefits that are statutorily...