Firm Founder Ed Abes Retires

As of January 1, 2020, founder and partner Ed Abes has retired after a more than 50-year career practicing law.

After graduating from Pennsylvania State University and Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, Ed began his career working for the State Workers’ Insurance Fund as a Special Assistant Attorney General. In 1978, he decided to use his knowledge and experience of Workers’ Compensation to establish a law firm dedicated to fighting for injured workers.

Not long after opening the doors at Abes Baumann, Ed began representing injured professional athletes as a member of the Workers’ Compensation Panels of the National Football League Players Association, the National Hockey League Players Association, and the Professional Hockey Players Association. The Major League Baseball Players Association also recommends Abes Baumann to their injured players.

In addition to practicing law full-time, Ed has volunteered his time on a number of boards and committees including chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Section Liaison Committee, which facilitates communication among the judges, administrators, and attorneys of the Workers’ Compensation judicial system. Ed is past president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and past treasurer of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee.

Ed has won numerous industry awards and accolades during his career. In 2011, Ed was elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance. Super Lawyers Magazine has listed him as one of the top 5% of lawyers in Pennsylvania since 2004 and also as one of the Top 50 Lawyers in Pittsburgh. He has been recognized continuously since 2004 by Best Lawyers in America as one of Pittsburgh’s Best Workers’ Compensation Lawyers.

On behalf of the entire firm at Abes Baumann, we thank Ed for his years of leadership, mentoring and friendship. We wish him all the best in his retirement.

Football Players –Seasonal Employees?

Recently, Abes Baumann participated in an en banc argument before the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania revisiting the precedent that professional football players are “seasonal employees”under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. In the case of Pittsburgh Steelers Sports, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Trucks), Tom Baumann argued that Mr. Trucks signed a yearly contract with the Steelers and as a year-round employee was required to perform year-round obligations for the team. Therefore, Mr. Trucks workers’ compensation benefits should be based upon the contract he signed.

Below, theWorkers’ Compensation Judge and Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board ruled in Mr. Trucks favor, finding his workers’ compensation benefits should be based upon the contract he signed with the Steelers. The Steelers appealed arguing that Trucks was a “seasonal employee.” The Commonwealth Court seemed skeptical of the Steelers’ claim that the contract was seasonal and questioned both sides on what constituted an NFL season. It appears that the Commonwealth Court will now revisit prior cases finding that football players are “seasonal employees”

See, “NFL Players Aren’t ‘Seasonal Employee’ Pa. Court Told” in www.law360.com for a summary of the Commonwealth Court argument.

Ed Abes, Tom Baumann, and Doug Williams named to both Best Lawyers in America and SuperLawyers Lists

As this year comes to a close we want to highlight our attorneys for being recognized as top in our field. 

Best Lawyers has been regarded as one of the most credible measures of legal integrity and distinction in the country for more than 30 years. It truly symbolizes excellence in the practice. 

Ed Abes, Tom Baumann, and Doug Williams were again recognized by Best Lawyers in America this year for their work. Ed has been named every year since 1995, Tom every year since 2005 and Doug since 2009. All were recognized in the practice area of Workers’ Compensation Law — Claimants. 

Inclusion on this list is based on a rigorous peer-review survey comprising more than 8.2 million confidential evaluations by top attorneys. 

In addition to being named Best Lawyers, all three were also named SuperLawyers in Pennsylvania, only about five percent of lawyers receive this designation. 

The entire team at Abes Baumann salutes Ed, Tom, and Doug for these well-deserved recognitions.

Impairment Rating Examination Reinstated by State Legislature

As followers of Abes Baumann know, our firm was successful in a constitutional challenge to the use of Impairment Ratings under the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment to convert injured workers from total disability compensation to partial disability compensation. The conversion would put a limit on how long workers could receive wage loss benefits. In the landmark case of Protz v. WCAB, Abes Baumann’s attorneys successfully convinced the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the delegation to the AMA constituted an unconstitutional delegation of authority. The Act was therefore voided.

The Legislature scrambled to reinstate the use of Impairment Ratings to convert people to partial disability. Hearings were held at which Tom Baumann of Abes Baumann testified. Ultimately, the state legislature passed a bill using the Sixth Edition of the AMA Guides to evaluate injured workers. The percentage impairment rate necessary to keep people on total disability was lowered from 50% to 35%, largely because of the Protz decision. Therefore, injured workers can now be compelled to attend Impairment Rating Evaluations in order for insurance companies to convert people to partial disability.

Abes Baumann continues to challenge the constitutionality of the new law. The status of how that law is applied will continue to remain in flux for an extended period of time as challenges wind their way through the appellate courts. If any injured worker is being subjected to an Impairment Rating Evaluation, please call the attorneys at Abes Baumann for a free evaluation of your case.

New Agent Orange Developments

By: Susan Paczak

There are some new developments regarding the VA and Agent Orange. In the summer the House of Representatives easily passed a bill that would have given Blue Water vets the same presumption of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides given to vets who served on land in Vietnam. The bill then went to the Senate. The bill stalled in committee in the Senate. It stalled because the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie opposed the bill. The Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee tried to come to deal to get some legislation passed, but without the support of the Secretary he would not bring the bill up for a vote in the full Senate. As this Congressional term is almost over, a new bill will have to be introduced in the House in 2019, and the process will have to start over again. Once again, justice is denied to Blue Water vets.

In other news, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued its 2018 update on Veterans and Agent Orange. This organization is required by law to provide an update every 2 years on whether, based upon research, certain diseases are linked to Agent Orange exposure. The VA then uses this report to decide if disease should be added to the Agent Orange presumptive list. This year the report included high blood pressure (hypertension) on its list of diseases that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that Agent Orange caused this disease. In the past, all other disease that were found to have sufficient evidence to link Agent Orange to the disease were put on the list. In my opinion, the Secretary will not put high blood pressure on the list. It is clear from the VA’s position on the Blue Water vets that they do not want to add more veterans to the list of those eligible for benefits for Agent Orange exposure. However, this evidence can be used by an experienced attorney to argue that even without the presumption, the veteran should be compensated for high blood pressure caused by Agent Orange exposure.

To discuss your claim for Agent Orange diseases and other conditions, call ABES BAUMANN.

The team at Abes Baumann congratulates Ed Abes, Tom Baumann and Doug Williams for being named to the Best Lawyers in America List.

For more than three decades, Best Lawyers has been regarded as the most credible measure of legal integrity and distinction in the United States. The 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America highlights the top 5% of practicing lawyers in the country.

Ed has been named every year since 1995, Tom has been listed since 2005 and Doug since 2009. This year, all three are being recognized in the practice are of Workers’ Compensation Law — Claimants.

Those of us who are privileged to work alongside Ed, Tom and Doug know that this honor is highly deserved. Through hard work and dedication to their clients, they’ve set the example for the attorneys and staff at Abes Baumann.


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