Buchanan v. Kerr-McGee Corp.

908 P.2d 242 (1995)

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Buchanan v. Kerr-McGee Corp.

New Mexico Court of Appeals
908 P.2d 242 (1995)

Facts

Henry Buchanan worked for Kerr-McGee Corporation, doing business as Quivira Mining Company (Quivira) (defendant), for over 20 years as an underground uranium miner. In 1985, Buchanan filed a claim under New Mexico’s Occupational Disease Law alleging that he was suffering from silicosis, a work-related lung disease. In 1987, Buchanan and Quivira settled Buchanan’s silicosis claim for $15,000. In connection with the settlement, Buchanan executed an agreement releasing Quivira from all claims Buchanan might have against Quivira under the occupational-disease law. Buchanan and Quivira agreed that the release agreement would bind both Buchanan and his dependents, but Buchanan’s wife, Muriel Buchanan (plaintiff) did not read or sign the release agreement. Six years after signing the release agreement, Buchanan was diagnosed with lung cancer. Buchanan filed an occupational-disease claim against Quivira, but he died of lung cancer while his claim was pending. After Buchanan’s death, Muriel filed a complaint against Quivira seeking death benefits and medical expenses. A workers’-compensation judge (the WCJ) dismissed Muriel’s complaint, finding both that Muriel’s claim was barred by the release agreement and that Buchanan’s disability and death were not caused by an occupational disease that arose out of his employment. Muriel appealed to the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bustamante, J.)

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