Court reporter can receive workers comp benefits for on-the-job aneurysm

ALBANY, N.Y.—A court reporter’s brain aneurysm should be presumed compensable because she collapsed at her high-stress job, even though there were no witnesses, a New York court has ruled.

The New York State Unified Court System failed to prove that Vanessa Richman’s ruptured aneurysm was unrelated to her work, according to a unanimous decision last week from an appellate division of the New York Supreme Court.

Ms. Richman was found unconscious at work in August 2007 and diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm, according to court records. The injury left Ms. Richman unable to communicate.

A medical expert for the Unified Court System argued that Ms. Richman’s condition should be considered non-work-related. But a workers compensation law judge awarded benefits to Ms. Richman, and the decision was upheld in 2010 by the New York Workers’ Compensation Board.

Compensability presumed

The appellate court affirmed the workers comp board ruling on Thursday. The court said that New York workers comp law presumes compensability when “an unwitnessed or unexplained injury occurs during the course of the affected worker’s employment.”

The ruling also said that the medical expert was “evasive” when asked whether Ms. Richman’s ruptured aneurysm could have been caused by job-related high blood pressure.

“The record establishes that, prior to claimant’s collapse, she was under considerable stress at work and her workplace was loud and overheated,” the ruling reads.