Updates in Light of COVID-19

Eleasa Allen

Heather Baker

By Eleasa Allen and Heather Baker

This is a post to provide the Section with some updates in light of the changes, postponements, and closures as a result of COVID-19/Coronavirus.  This is an evolving situation that will have varying impacts on each of us.  We encourage everyone to remain flexible.  As additional information is disseminated, we will be sure to share it with you.

Due to concerns regarding safety and public gatherings, the Section’s social scheduled for April 23, 2020 at the Greensboro Grasshoppers baseball game has been cancelled.  There should be additional social events scheduled in the future, so stay tuned for those.

For all Section members, please see the below notice from the Industrial Commission about how they are handling postponing cases per Chief Justice Beasley’s March 13, 2020 Order:

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Response: Industrial Commission Hearing Policies

In order to protect public health and safety, and in light of Chief Justice Beasley’s March 13, 2020 Order requiring local courts to postpone most cases in district and superior court for at least 30 days, the Industrial Commission has instituted the following policies for hearings, effective immediately and continuing until further notice. These policies apply to all hearings that are scheduled to take place on or after Monday, March 16, 2020:

Deputy Commissioner Hearings

With the exception of hearings on medical motions arising under G.S. §97-25(f), all Deputy Commissioner hearings scheduled to be heard in March or April of 2020 will be continued to be reset on the next available docket, unless the parties are notified otherwise. Deputy Commissioner hearings on medical motions arising under G.S. §97-25(f), which are statutorily required to be held within 30 days of the filing of the motion or appeal, will not be continued. The Deputy Commissioner before whom the hearing is scheduled may, however, excuse the parties from appearing at the G.S. §97-25(f) hearing if the parties and the Deputy Commissioner agree that no lay witnesses are needed to decide the case, based on the parties’ stipulated facts and exhibits. If the parties are excused from appearing at the hearing because no lay witnesses are needed, the parties should proceed as usual with obtaining any expert medical testimony needed to close the record.

Full Commission Hearings

All Full Commission oral arguments will be conducted by conference call. The Full Commission panel chair will provide the parties with a toll-free number and access code to dial into the conference call. Consistent with existing procedure, all oral arguments will continue to be recorded by a court reporter, with the exception of medical motion oral arguments made pursuant to 11 NCAC 23A .0609A(h).

Executive Secretary Hearings

Consistent with existing procedure, all informal telephonic hearings conducted by the Executive Secretary’s Office will be by conference call.