Pennsylvania appellate court has ruled that a former Nestle USA Inc. employee is entitled to workers compensation indemnity and medical benefits. Shawn Gallen was disabled due to his bout with Legionnaires’ disease, which he believes was caused by exposure to contaminated water while performing his job.
Mr. Gallen was an employee of Glendale, California-based Nestle USA Inc. since 1994. He was based in the company’s Burlington, New Jersey, office, but performed most of his work in Pennsylvania doing maintenance work of beverage machines. In June 2013 he experienced flu-like symptoms. He fell into a coma at a hospital and was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. Although Mr. Gallen was released in September 2013, he sustained a brain injury as a result of his treatment. The illness affected his speech and left him wheelchair-bound. He is unable to care for his basic functions without assistance.
Mr. Gallen filed a claim against Nestle in September 2013, claiming that he contracted the disease while working on fountain and soda drink machines that contained contaminated water. Legionnaires’ Disease is a severe pneumonia caused by exposure to water containing the Legionella bacteria. Nestle denied the allegations that the disease was a result of work-related exposure. A workers compensation judge has ruled that Mr. Gallen’s illness was likely caused by occupational exposure. Because Mr. Gallen was temporarily disabled he is entitled to workers comp benefits.
“We are disappointed by the court’s decision and are assessing our options for an appeal,” a spokeswoman for Nestle said in an email to Business Insurance Wednesday. “While we sympathize with Mr. Gallen’s condition, we do not believe it was related to his employment with Nestlé Vitality.”
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