AROUND THE NATION

Texas
Rehearing of Workers' Comp Case Requested

A decision passed by the Texas Supreme Court on a high profile case has labor groups and state Congressional leaders seething as they claim the ruling, which limits injured contract employees to workers' compensation benefits without the ability to pursue legal action, allows negligent companies to escape consequences.

Four Texas lawmakers, along with the Texas AFL-CIO, drafted a brief arguing the decision in the Entergy Gulf v. Summers case this past August contradicts state law. The United Steelworkers (USW) union argued that the decision “rewards negligent employers who fail to maintain a safe workplace.”

In 2001, John Summers was injured in an accident while working at Entergy's Sabine Station plant as an employee of a contractor hired by Entergy. Along with his worker's compensation claim, he tried to sue the company for negligence. The Texas Supreme Court overturned an appellate ruling in his favor, establishing that Entergy — the “premises owner” — also qualified as a “general contractor.” Because Summers was covered by workers compensation purchased by Entergy, the company was immune from injury lawsuits, the ruling said.

Minnesota
Illness Plagues Pork Plant Workers

An inexplicable neurological illness has afflicted 11 workers from a pork processing plant in Austin, Minn., prompting state health officials to investigate the cause of the malady.

According to officials from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the workers experienced muscle weakness and numbness as well as an “abnormal sensation” in their muscles and legs. While some of the workers have recovered completely, others are currently going through rehabilitation, said Health Commissioner Dr. Sanne Magnan. She also said that an investigation into the cause of the illness is still underway.

Face masks have been issued for workers to wear and the company no longer uses a method called “air pressurized removal” to remove brain tissue from the animals, Wadding said. He assured that the general public is not at risk and the food distributed by the plant has not been affected.

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