Adam G. Linett

Adam G. Linett

Adam G. Linett, the founding member of A.G. Linett & Associates, PA, enjoys practicing law as a trial lawyer. After graduation from Duke Law School in 2000, he moved to New York where his work primarily focused on defense litigation and appellate work in a number of jurisdictions across the United States.

If you or a loved one has become sick or has passed away due to COVID-19 exposure in the workplace, our hearts go out to you. While we try to reopen the economy and return to normal business operations, there may be some essential workers or emergency response workers who are affected by the ongoing pandemic. What rights do you have under North Carolina law?

In early May 2020, North Carolina passed legislation that granted immunity from civil liability for essential businesses or emergency response entities during the pandemic. The new section is found at North Carolina General Statutes, Section 66-460, is entitled “Essential businesses; emergency response entities; liability limitation.” This statute means that a customer or employee cannot sue a business for any injuries or deaths that they believe were caused as a result of being a customer or being an employee of one of these businesses. This immunity will last as long as the emergency declaration is in effect in North Carolina.

However, there are two exceptions. The first, and most likely most important exception, is found at Section 66-460(b). It provides that an essential business or emergency response entity does not receive immunity for workers’ compensation claims. Specifically, it states:

“This section does not preclude an employee of an essential business or emergency response entity from seeking an appropriate remedy under Chapter 97 of the General Statues for any injuries or death alleged to have been caused as a result of the employee contracting COVID-19 while employed by the essential business or emergency response entity.”

Section 97 of the General Statutes deals with workers’ compensation claims

The second exception is if a business engaged in “gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm,” which is more unlikely and a difficult legal standard to meet.

This does not mean, of course, that any injury or death resulting from COVID-19 in the workplace will automatically be an accepted workers’ compensation claim. An employee would still have to prove that he or she had an occupational disease and that this was caused by the employment.  While it may be straightforward enough to document COVID-19 through medical testing, there will likely be significant disagreement about whether it was caused by work. 

Generally speaking, to prove an occupational disease, an employee must show that: (1) the disease must be characteristic of persons engaged in the particular trade or occupation in which the employee is engaged; (2) it must not be an ordinary disease of life to which the public generally is equally exposed with those engaged in that particular trade or occupation; and (3) there must be a causal connection between the disease and the employee’s job. 

This means that a COVID-19 occupational disease claim would likely be stronger for those essential workers in industries where employment directly exposed the worker to a greater risk of contracting the disease than the general public, such as health care workers or other emergency personnel. While it is not impossible to make a claim for a grocery store employee who becomes disabled or passes away because of COVID-19, it will be a harder argument due to their type of employment.

We anticipate that employers and their insurance companies will take the position that even if there was an increased risk for exposure, that the employee cannot prove that it was caused by their place of work. They may also argue that COVID-19 is not a disease that is characteristic with a particular trade or occupation, but that it is an ordinary disease of life that the general public is equally exposed to outside of employment.

In any event, North Carolina has a two-year statute of limitation for occupational disease claims, which begins to run after a person is diagnosed by a physician. If you or a loved one has become sick or passes away due to COVID-19 contracted from work, please seek legal advice as these will likely be complicated workers’ compensation claims.

How can an incorrect birth date be fixed on a Certificate of Naturalization? The first question is when did you naturalize, was it  before  or  after  October 1, 1991? If it was before that date, then you must go back to federal court where you naturalized and file a federal lawsuit. If it was after that date, then you would have to file an application with United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to seek relief.

Unfortunately, if your naturalization certificate was issued before October 1, 1991, only the federal court where the certificate was issued has jurisdiction to amend it. This means that you would need to file a lawsuit in federal court against USCIS to fix it! A well drafted petition would include reasons for the error and what steps you have taken to try to fix the problem yourself. This would technically be a Rule 60(b)(6) motion under the Federal Rules of Civil procedure. Some of the issues that will concern the court is whether the application was made timely and whether there are "extraordinary circumstances" that would justify relief. The court most likely will be looking for "clear and convincing" evidence that the birthdate on the certificate is wrong, that there is no fraud, and that there is reliable evidence of the new date.

If your naturalization certificate was issued on or after October 1, 1991, you would file a Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/ Citizenship Document, with USCIS. Keep in mind that federal regulations prohibit USCIS from issuing a replacement naturalization certificate unless there was an error on the part of USCIS. Otherwise, you would be required to first obtain an order from a state court order or other vital record correcting the birth date. Then, you may apply for a replacement Certificate of Citizenship with the correct date. This situation sometimes arises when a child is born abroad and the date of birth is unknown or is an estimate. The parents may want to come back later to correct the date of birth through this process.

In either case, changing the date of birth on a Certificate of Naturalization can be a complicated process. Also, if there is any indication that this application raises questions of fraud, you should speak with an attorney before proceeding. Keep in mind that a federal judge and USCIS have the ability to revoke naturalization certificates. 

If you are trying to amend a naturalization certificate, especially one issued by a federal court prior to October 1, 1991, please make an appointment today.

Saturday, 07 November 2015 00:00

Sanchez v. Truse Trucking, Inc.

Reported Decision

Sanchez v. Truse Trucking, Inc., 74 F. Supp. 3d 716 (M.D.N.C. 2014)

Date: 7/31/2014

Attorney(s):
  • Adam G. Linett

Summary

We represented thirteen (13) current and former employees of a North Carolina freight shipping and trucking company who alleged that they were not paid minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The employer moved to dismiss the claim for failure to state a claim. However, District Court Judge Beaty denied the motion and allowed the Plaintiffs’ claims to go forward holding that the defendant’s motion was premature and the complaint was sufficiently detailed to state a claim.

Disclaimer: The case(s) referenced herein are sample cases handled by the law firm. The results of each case depend on a variety of factors unique to each case and not all of the firm's results are provided. Prior results do not guarantee similar outcomes.

Tuesday, 06 October 2015 00:00

Mosqueda v. Mosqueda

Reported Decision

Mosqueda v. Mosqueda, 721 S.E.2d 755, 757 (N.C. Ct. App. 2012) appeal dismissed, review denied, 724 S.E.2d 919 (N.C. 2012)

Date: 1/17/2012

Attorney(s):
  • Adam G. Linett
  • J. Rodrigo Pocasangre

Summary

Four passengers sued the driver of automobile who overturned her vehicle in Alabama while all were in route to North Carolina. The trial court dismissed three of the plaintiffs' claims finding they were barred by the Alabama guest statute. Plaintiffs appealed arguing that the Alabama guest statute was contrary to North Carolina public policy and that it violated the Equal Protection Clause. However, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's decision and the North Carolina Supreme Court denied review. The remaining passenger settled after the appeal was concluded as his claim was found exempted from the guest statute as the husband and co-owner of the vehicle.

Disclaimer: The case(s) referenced herein are sample cases handled by the law firm. The results of each case depend on a variety of factors unique to each case and not all of the firm's results are provided. Prior results do not guarantee similar outcomes.

Friday, 25 September 2015 00:00

ABC Roofing, Inc. v. Sawyer

Sample Decision

ABC Roofing, Inc. v. Sawyer, 750 S.E.2d 918 (N.C. Ct. App. 2013) (unpublished disposition)

Date: 9/3/2013

Attorney(s): 
  • Adam G. Linett
  • J. Rodrigo Pocasangre 

Summary

We represented a roofing contractor, ABC Roofing, Inc., who was not paid by a homeowner after having installed new shingles on the Defendant's residence. After a bench trial, the District Court Judge ruled in our favor and ordered the Defendant to pay the amount owed. The Defendant appealed. In an unpublished decision, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's judgment.

Disclaimer: The case(s) referenced herein are sample cases handled by the law firm. The results of each case depend on a variety of factors unique to each case and not all of the firm's results are provided. Prior results do not guarantee similar outcomes.

No. You must act quickly.  North Carolina General Statutes Section 97-22 requires an injured employee to give written notice to his employer of an injury or accident as soon as practical or within 30 days of the date of the injury or occupational disease.  An injured worker should fill out North Carolina Industrial Commission Form 18, entitled Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee, Representative, or Dependent and submit it to the Industrial Commission and their employer.

What happens if a person waits?  There is an exception to the 30-day rule if an employee can show a “reasonable excuse” for the failure to provide written notice and that the employer has not been “prejudiced.” But many times the insurance carrier will deny the claim because of the late notice and the case ends up in litigation.  

Whether or not an employee has a “reasonable excuse” depends on the circumstances.  For example, in Peagler v. Tyson Foods, Inc., the Court of Appeals noted that “A reasonable excuse may be established where the employee does not initially know of the nature or probable compensable character of his injury.” The Court also noted that the plaintiff did not “initially understand the nature or character of his injury .… [and] that plaintiff had a third grade education and was illiterate.”

In any event, it is best not to wait and create unnecessary difficulties with your workers’ compensation case.  Contact us today if you have any questions.

Contact Info

A.G. Linett & Associates — PA ATTORNEYS AT LAW
4914 W. Market Street, Suite A
Greensboro, NC 27407

 336.316.1190

 336.316.1191

  Hours of operation: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm Mon-Fri | 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Sat