Alicia WEDDLE, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Joseph Gonzon, Deceased, Claimant/Appellant,
BP AMOCO CHEMICAL COMPANY, Employer, Appellee.
February 1, 2019.
Appeal from the Industrial Accident Board.
T. Crumplar, Esquire, Patrick C. Gallagher, Esquire, Jacobs
& Crumplar, P.A., Attorneys for Appellant.
A. Bradley, Esquire, Antoinette D. Hubbard, Esquire, Maron
Marvel Bradley Anderson & Tardy LLC, Wilmington,
Attorneys for Appellee.
an appeal from a decision of the Industrial Accident Board
("IAB") dismissing a petition to determine
compensation due for an employee's asbestos-related
disease on the grounds that the employee waived all
workers' compensation claims arising from asbestos
exposure in the workplace, both known and unknown, in a
settlement thirty-four years prior to manifestation of the
disease. The question of whether an employee is entitled to
compensation for mesothelioma despite settling claims for
asbestosis more than thirty years previously has not
previously been addressed by this Court.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Gonzon ("Employee") was an employee of BP Amoco
Chemical Corporation ("Employer"). During the
period of employment from 1968-1980, Employee was exposed to
asbestos and developed asbestosis. In 1982, Employee settled
his claims for work-related asbestosis ("1982
Settlement"). Thereafter, in November 2016, Employee was
diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. In April 2017,
Employee filed a claim for workers' compensation for
mesothelioma developed as the result of exposure to asbestos
in the workplace ("Mesothelioma Petition").
Employee died on September 28, 2017 as the result of
peritoneal mesothelioma. Employee is survived by his wife. In
his Mesothelioma Petition, Employee sought a finding of
compensability for his mesothelioma as well as a claim for
death benefits for his surviving spouse.
filed a motion to dismiss the Mesothelioma Petition on the
grounds that Employee was not entitled to additional
compensation because Employee had released all claims related
to asbestos exposure against Employer in 1982. Employee
claimed that the 1982 Settlement pertained only to the
earlier manifested asbestosis as set forth in a workers'
compensation claim as well as a tort claim. After a hearing,
the IAB issued a decision on May 24, 2018 dismissing
Employee's Mesothelioma Petition on the grounds that the
1982 Settlement precluded Employee from seeking additional
compensation related to asbestos exposure ("Mesothelioma
Decision"). This appeal followed in which the
question presented is whether Employee's mesothelioma,
diagnosed in November 2016, was included in the 1982
Court has jurisdiction over appeals from administrative
agencies, including appeals from the IAB. This Court's
appellate role is limited to determining whether the
IAB's conclusions are supported by substantial evidence
and free from legal error. Substantial evidence is "such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." The Court reviews
the IAB's legal determinations de novo, which
"requires the Court to determine whether the Board erred
in formulating or applying legal