I am very excited to present the Sitzmann Law Firm Ltd. Blog!  This is a place where Attorneys from our firm will be giving our readers updates about areas of law in which we practice and other information we believe might be valuable to our readers.

Please feel free to email me at sara@sitzmannlaw.com for suggestions on things YOU want to read about!

The first topic I’d like to write about is Worker’s Compensation.  Why should you be interested in this topic?  Well, what happened to the business in this article, could happen to your business.

** DISCLAIMER** I feel it necessary to tell you, reader, that I am optimistic.  My work in the law has shown me that many business owner’s are also Optimists.  I love that.  However, my work has also revealed the hard truth: bad things do happen.  It is possible that bad things will happen to your business.  The best way to protect yourself:  1- Be Informed.  2- Be Prepared.  Know what YOU need to do by having good advisers to ask the questions you have about your business.

Ok, enough disclaiming.  Back to the article.  This article, written by Joe Forward, a Legal Writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, discusses a Wisconsin Appeals Court case involving Pick’n Save (a local grocery store) and one of their bakery employees, Jill Lucchesi.  Jill developed carpel tunnel syndrome from constantly frosting the cakes in the bakery.   She got a doctor’s note restricting her from frosting.  About 5 years later, her bosses asked her to frost again because another employee was going to be out.  She did, because without the extra hours, she would have lost fringe benefits.  Guess what…she was re-injured.

Jill filed for worker’s compensation.  Pick’n Save argued that they should not have to pay because her injury was self inflicted.   She decided to take on frosting, right??  Wrong.  The LRIC (the body that hears worker’s compensation cases) awarded Jill $15,553 in compensation, which was affirmed by the Wisconsin Appeals Court.  Pick’n Save asked her to frost, regarding of their knowledge of the restriction.  Her decision to frost was not relevant because of employer knew about her restriction and had her frost anyway.

In summary…Employers beware, if you know your employees can’t frost, don’t let them!!

Signing off,

Sara

Sara@sitzmannlaw.com

Defendants in criminal matters are entitled to be tried before a jury of their peers, however, according to a recent Court of Appeals decision; Judges must remove immediate family members from any jury panel in cases in which they are presiding.  The District II Wisconsin appeals court recently held in State v. Sellhausen, 2010AP445-CR (Nov. 24, 2010) that a trial court judge must sua sponte remove immediate family members from the panel of potential jurors in cases in which the judge is presiding.  The rational for this decision is that, holding otherwise, “would require judges to rule on a party’s motion to strike the juror for cause, instead of using a peremptory challenge.”

Defendant Sellhausen successfully appealed a jury conviction on the grounds that the presiding judge did not remove the judge’s daughter-in-law from the panel of potential jurors.  Instead, the Defendant’s attorney used a peremptory challenge to remove her during voir dire.

I am in full agreement with this decision.  However much the potential juror states that they will be able to remain impartial, there is no telling how a judge’s actions on the bench may influence that juror.  This is especially true where a judge is “familiar” with the defendant or does not have the most cordial relationship with the defense attorney.  The potential for improper influence is clearly present, and that should have been enough for the judge in Sellhausen to strike the juror.

What are your thoughts?

Andrew.Micheletti@sitzmannlaw.com

The information on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  Please contact an attorney for legal advice.  Reading the Sitzmann Law Firm Ltd blog does not create a confidential, Attorney Client relationship.