Palmer v. Del Webb’s High Sierra

A nonsmoking worker developed coughing and breathing problems while employed at a casino.  His doctors diagnosed him as suffering from reactive airways disease, severe bronchitis and asthma, caused or aggravated by the smoke-filled environment at the casino.  The casino rejected his worker’s compensation claim.  A hearing officer found that, while his illness was caused by exposure to smoke at work, Palmer had not suffered a compensable occupational disease because, according to the Nevada Occupational Disease Act (NODA), lung diseases were restricted to firefighters and police officers.  A state district court also concluded that the disease was not incidental to the character of the business and, thus, was not compensable.  Affirming the trial court’s decision, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that “secondary smoke is a hazard to which workers, as a class, may be ‘equally exposed outside of the employment.'”

, 838 P.2d 435, 8.1 TPLR 2.174, No. 20338, Nevada Sup. Ct. (Nev. 1992).