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Reconciliation; Death Benefits; and another Blast from the Past!

Happy Friday, dear readers!

Your humble blogger was taking a look at Lexis’s Top 25 Noteworthy Panel Decisions, and came across the case of Woolever v. City of Long Beach.  Basically, the injured worker died as a result of an industrial injury, and the courageous gubmn’t swoops in with the Death Without Dependents Unit to hit the defendant up for $250,000.

Well, the injured worker’s ex-wife was presented by defendant as a dependent, and argued that the decedent provided court-ordered spousal support and additional support a well (loan forgiveness, gas, other necessities).  However, the WCJ and the WCAB both rejected defendant’s position because the decedent and his wife never reconciled after their divorce.

The WCAB opined that “[s]ince there was no reconciliation of the marriage of Applicant and the Deceased … and because Applicant and the Deceased did not live in the same household after they divorced and sold their home in the late 1990s, Applicant is not entitled to dependency death benefits on the basis of the financial support she received from the Deceased.”

Ok, so why am I boring you with this case?  Because it leads into a … [wait for it] … Blast from the Past!

Back in 1940, we got another case: Murry v. PG&E (5 CCC 4).  There, the decedent’s wife had obtained an interlocutory decree of divorce about a month before the industrial injury, and was thus obligated to pay $25 a month in alimony (presumably $422.37 in today’s dollars) and $25 a month in support of their son.  The decedent had time to make a single payment under the divorce decree before his injury.

Both the decedent’s ex-wife and his son were determined to be total dependents.

So, what’s the difference (other than about 75 years)?

Perhaps the ink was barely dry on the divorce decree in Murry and was ancient history in Woolever?  Perhaps the Murry decedent and applicant didn’t even have an opportunity to reconcile?

I dunno… I’m just a humble blogger.  Have a good weekend!

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