Magaw v. Middletown Board of Education

A middle school teacher contracted tonsil cancer after 26 years of sharing a small office with a chain-smoking co-worker. The court agreed with the decision of a state workers’ compensation judge that the cancer was an occupational disease subject to compensation. As a result, the Board of Education was ordered to pay the teacher’s past and future medical expenses and temporary disability benefits and to reimburse his used sick leave. Although the teacher was a non-smoker and made attempts to avoid tobacco smoke, the workers’ compensation judge estimated that he had been exposed to approximately 46,800 cigarettes during the 26 years of sharing an office with a smoker. The court said that although there was not definitive scientific evidence that exposure to secondhand smoke causes tonsil cancer, there was sufficient evidence to establish a connection between his disease and his place of employment. Therefore the court upheld the finding of the workers’ compensation judge except for the reimbursement of sick leave, which the court found was beyond the jurisdiction of the judge.


Magaw v. Middletown Bd. of Educ., 731 A.2d 1196 (N.J. Super. 1999).

  • United States
  • Jul 2, 1999
  • Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division


Plaintiff Donald Magaw

Defendant Middletown Board of Education

Legislation Cited

New Jersey Workers' Compensation Law (New Jersey Statutes Annotated 34:15)

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