Drugs and alcohol certainly have no place in a safe work environment. In fact, Georgia provides a discount on workers’ compensation insurance premiums for employers who participate in the Drug-Free Workplace program established by the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. However, despite the obvious dangers of employees working while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Georgia law does not automatically bar a workers’ compensation claim based on a positive post-accident drug/alcohol test. As such, there are steps employers need to take to ensure their intoxication defense is as strong as possible. The Rebuttable Presumption A positive drug/alcohol test does not automatically bar a workers’ compensation claim. Instead, it gives rise to a rebuttable presumption that the accident occurred because the employee was intoxicated. The burden then shifts to the employee to prove by clear, positive, and uncontradicted evidence that the accident did not occur because they were intoxicated. The rebuttable…       Read More

Think for a moment about the international business opportunities that Georgia companies already are realizing.  Just last year, according to recently-released data, Georgia exports were a record high:  nearly $39.4 billion in goods and services, representing an increase of 4.9% over the previous year, making Georgia the 11th largest exporting state in the nation.  (Georgia Department of Economic Development, “2014 Georgia Global Trade Summary,” Feb. 5, 2015.)  And that’s just exports. Georgia companies interact with foreign parties in numerous other forms of international commerce as well – whether the direct investments of Georgia manufacturers, partnerships with foreign companies, activities of franchisors and distributors, and other activities.   Much of our region’s international business is focused on emerging markets in developing countries:  whether China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, or Nigeria, as examples; where growth rates are soaring and demand for US business is high.  Our agribusiness products – pecans, peanuts, wood pulp,…       Read More

In January 2014, President Obama appointed John Podesta, Counselor to the President, to lead a review of big data and privacy. On February 5, 2015, the Big Data and Privacy Working Group issued an interim report detailing their progress. Unfortunately, the report demonstrates the government cannot resist the temptation to put its clamps on progress in the name of the alleged public good. One of the “key recommendations”, which the report claims requires prompt action is, “Expand technical expertise to stop discrimination”. This recommendation is problematic because the working group has concluded that big data is already being used to discriminate. Otherwise, it would not state it needs to “stop discrimination”. Despite this proclamation, the report fails to give a single instance of big data being used to illegally discriminate against any person or class of people. Why let a lack of evidence stand in the way of a good…       Read More

Arguably, the most important part of an appellate brief is the standard of review. The standard of review balances the power between trial courts and appellate courts.[i] It dictates the amount of deference the appellate court must give to a trial court’s decision.[ii] When an appellate court applies a deferential standard of review, then more times than not it is going to “defer” to the trial court and affirm its decision. In contrast, when a less deferential standard of review applies, the appellate court is more likely to scrutinize the trial court and reverse its decision. Broadly speaking, Georgia appellate courts typically apply one of three different standards of review: any evidence, abuse of discretion, and de novo.[iii] The most deferential of these is the any evidence standard of review and the least deferential is the de novo standard of review. The abuse of discretion standard falls somewhere in between…       Read More

On January 28, 2015, the South Carolina Court of Appeals issued an order in Crossmann Cmtys. of N.C., Inc. v. Harleysville Mut. Ins. Co., affirming the trial court’s findings on remand from the South Carolina Supreme Court in a pivotal construction defect case. 2015 S.C. App. LEXIS 5 (S.C. Ct. App. Jan. 28, 2015). This is a brief summary of the January 2015 Crossmann holding (for convenience, termed “Crossmann III” herein), as well as a summary of the findings from Crossmann II. The Crossmann findings have defined South Carolina’s treatment of the allocation of progressive property damage among commercial general liability (“CGL”) carriers. I. Crossmann II: Crossmann Cmtys. of N.C. v. Harleysville Mut. Ins. Co., 395 S.C. 40 (S.C. 2011). The Supreme Court’s Crossmann Cmtys. of N.C. v. Harleysville Mut. Ins. Co. (“Crossmann II“) from 2011 was a landmark case as it solidified South Carolina’s treatment of progressive property damage…       Read More

Bank Hackers Steal Millions via Malware New York Times In many ways, this hack began like any other. The cybercriminals sent their victims infected emails – a news clip or message that appeared to come … What we know about the bank hacking ring – and who’s behind it CNN Money Kaspersky managing director Christopher Doggett said researchers managed to discover as much as they did by hacking into the hackers’ computer How to Fight Cyberthreats: White House Calls on Congress, Tech Industry to Help CIO President issues executive order to facilitate sharing information about cyberthreats, but says Congress needs to act on liability protection and data … Microsoft adopts international standard for cloud privacy Computerworld Microsoft has adopted a new standard for cloud privacy that commits the company to protect the privacy of customers’ data, not to use it for … The black market for stolen health care data…       Read More

The Red Flags of Workers’ Compensation: 25 Warning Signs 1. News of layoffs/termination/transfer. 2. Unwitnessed accident. 3. Accident reported after a holiday, weekend or vacation. 4. Short-term employee. 5. Lack of cooperation with medical suppliers. 6. Instant lawyer retention. 7. Disciplined shortly before the accident. 8. Employee is not a “happy camper.” 9. Family owned business/family member injury. 10. Invalid documentation of eligibility to work in United States. 11. Checkered work history. 12. Grapevine news. 13. Use of doctor/chiropractor across town. 14. Attorney/chiropractor/M.D. cross-referral. 15. Lies on employment application. 16. Gap in follow-up of medical care. 17. Subjective medical history totally inconsistent with story. 18. Recent personal disability policy. 19. Prior workers’ compensation claims. 20. Dirty hands (literally) at medical or rehabilitation appointment. 21. Family plan (multiple family members out on W/C, disability, etc.). 22. Longer than reasonable subjective complaints unsupported by objective tests. 23. Anonymous call. 24. Arrest record….       Read More

Massive breach at health care company Anthem Inc. USA TODAY We join in your concern and frustration and I assure you that we are working around the clock to do everything we can to further secure your data,” … What the Anthem Data Breach Says About the Vulnerability of Healthcare IT CIO The Anthem data breach, along with other highly publicized cases like Sony … While the anonymizing of data ensures a degree of data security, the … First lawsuits launched in Anthem hack USA TODAY The company found that unauthorized data queries with similar hallmarks … Credit card information was not among the data stolen, Anthem said. Hackers tried to breach health insurance computer system as early as Dec. 10 KHON2 Experts say it’s not unusual for sophisticated hacking groups to make repeated attempts to penetrate a computer system before they succeed. Health care lags on data security, some…       Read More

Cybersecurity in 2015: What to expect ZDNet We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber … We may not see such a multi-faceted a hack as SPE/GOP, but we can … Health Data Breaches Affecting Thousands of Patients Reported iHealthBeat California-based orthopedic medical device company DJO Global has reported a data breach following the theft of a laptop from a consultant’s car in … LinkedIn’s Data Breach Settlement Moves Forward MediaPost Communications A federal judge has tentatively approved LinkedIn’s $1.25 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit stemming from a 2012 data breach. Scope of data breach at UMass Memorial Medical Group unknown Sentinel & Enterprise LEOMINSTER — The investigation into whether a former employee of the UMass Memorial Medical Group illegally accessed sensitive patient … Wearables open new avenues for security and privacy invasions ZDNet Wearable tech creates a new opportunity for private data to be collected,…       Read More