We stay ahead of the curve in pursuing better outcomes for our customers. We’re always working to innovate and... read more »

Philip S. McCune

Litigation, Environmental Attorney
Philip S. McCune

315 Fifth Avenue S, Suite 1000
Seattle WA 98104
206.676.7000
slg@summitlaw.com





©2017 Summit Law Group PLLC

website by efelle

News

Chad Mitchell | Summit Law Group

By Chad Mitchell

Here is my quick take on Washington’s Substitute House Bill 1723, which was signed by Governor Inslee on March 7, 2018.  

Who does it cover?  A worker who worked at Hanford’s “two hundred east, two hundred west, three hundred area, environmental restoration disposal facility site, central plateau, or the river corridor locations for at least one eight-hour shift.”  S.H.B. 1723, 65th Leg., 2018 Sess. (Wash. 2018), § 1(1)(b).

What does it do?  Creates a prima facie presumption that specific diseases are “occupational diseases” under Washington’s workers’ compensation law.  Id., § 1(2)(a).

To what diseases does the presumption apply?  There are four categories of diseases:  respiratory disease; “heart problems, experienced within seventy-two hours of exposure to fumes, toxic substances, or chemicals at the site”; “Beryllium sensitization, and acute and chronic beryllium disease”; neurological disease; and cancer.  Id., § 1(3).  

Any cancer?  No.  There are a number of specific cancers that are identified in the bill.  Id., § 1(4)(b).  There are conditions to the presumption applying to any of these specific cancers: (1) the worker was given “a qualifying medical examination” upon becoming a Hanford worker, (2) that medical examination showed no evidence of cancer, and (3) the worker’s cancer “manifests itself.”  Id., § 4(a).  

Any cancer?  No.  There are a number of specific cancers that are identified in the bill. Id., § 1(4)(b).  There are conditions to the presumption applying to any of these specific cancers: (1) the worker was given “a qualifying medical examination” upon becoming a Hanford worker, (2) that medical examination showed no evidence of cancer, and (3) the worker’s cancer “manifests itself.”  Id., § 1(4)(a).

Assuming that the worker establishes that the presumption applies, can it be overcome?  Yes, but only with “clear and convincing evidence.”  Id., § 1(2)(b)

Is the law retroactive?  Yes.  If a claim was previously denied, the worker (or a survivor of the worker) “can file a new claim for the same exposure and contended condition or disease.” Id., § 5(b).  

This law is similar to the presumption of occupational disease for firefighters. RCW 51.32.185.  That law was first enacted in 1987; thus, there should be some precedent in those cases that will be relevant to interpreting and applying the new law for Hanford workers.

We will be analyzing the law closely in the new few weeks.  If you see a particular issue you would like us to address, please let us know.  

Return to Overview