Back in 2008, a California worker suffered injuries to his back, head, neck and chest when he fell from a roof. His workers' compensation physician prescribed two pain medicines (Vicodin and Neurontin), as well as an antidepressant.
The worker's personal doctor tried to help the man deal with anxiety and sleep problems after the fall. The physician prescribed Xanax and Ambien.
The man died several months later from the combined effects of the Neurontin, antidepressant, Xanax and Ambien, as well as "associated early pneumonia," a Business Insurance report states. After his death, his widow and the couple's three minor children submitted a workers' compensation death benefits claim. After finding that the man's workers' comp-prescribed medications contributed to his death, a workers' compensation judge ruled that the family was entitled to the benefits.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the insurer appealed that decision. The California 4th District Court of Appeal overturned the workers' compensation judge's ruling. (Note: the 4th District Court's Division 1 is in San Diego and Division 2 is in Riverside.)
Now the California Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on March 3. While it's relatively rare for a workers' comp case to wind up before the state Supreme Court, it is part of the job of an attorney to represent clients in hearings and litigation, no matter where the case leads.