Attorneys George P. Surmaitis and Cory Birnberg NBC Interview About Death of Postal Employee Spurs Benefits Denial Reversal

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California workers’ compensation attorney George P. Surmaitis, of A Professional Law Corporation, and noted longshore/civil attorney Cory Birnberg were recently interviewed on NBC Bay Area regarding a case involving a postal employee who died on August 8, 2014, inside the west Oakland processing and distribution center, and one day after the interview aired his widow was granted death benefits that had been previously denied.

George P. Surmaitis

We are overjoyed to see that the government chose to reverse their decision and award benefits, and we hope that our efforts might yield some benefit to others who face similar battles in the future.

According to court documents, Samuel Macasieb, who was employed by the USPS for 28 years working the graveyard shift operating a letter-sorting machine, suffered apparent head trauma and subsequently died. Allegedly, due to USPS policy, no one called 911 immediately, as in the event of a medical emergency, USPS employees at the time were required to first find a supervisor, who then had to contact postal police and ask them to call 911.

After an initial claim denial, Macasieb’s widow, Larnie Macasieb, contacted attorneys Surmaitis and Birnberg, who filed an appeal on her behalf and represented her in a hearing before a hearing representative of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) of the U.S. Department of Labor (Case No. 132315562). According to court documents, the hearing representative upheld the denial of federal benefits, concluding, in part, that the injury was not proven to be “work-related,” pursuant to the OWCP’s legal standards.

In the NBC interview, which aired on Monday, December 14, and again on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, Surmaitis pointed out that Macasieb “sustained a hinge fracture...which could only have come from a significant fall.” Surmaitis and Birnberg further expressed that the USPS had the burden of proving the injuries were not work-related in this type of scenario where the injury was unwitnessed. Despite this argument, the government initially ruled there was no way to know how Macasieb’s husband sustained his injury.

Following the efforts of Larnie Macasieb’s attorneys, and the investigative unit of NBC Bay Area News, on December 15, 2015, court documents stated and a NBC Bay Area News article published on December 22, 2015 noted that the Washington, D.C. office of the Office of Federal Workers’ Compensation Programs reversed the decision of the hearing examiner, specifically concluding what Macasieb’s attorneys had argued: that “the exact cause of the fall remains unexplained, and as such, the fall and subsequent death that resulted from the fall are compensable.” Surmaitis stated that “this tragedy was compounded by various factors including delay and red tape. We are overjoyed to see that the government chose to reverse their decision and award benefits, and we hope that our efforts might yield some benefit to others who face similar battles in the future.”

To view the interview, please visit

About George P. Surmaitis
George P. Surmaitis, of A Professional Law Corporation, is a trial-tested attorney with more than 20 years of experience. He is experienced in workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and third-party personal injury claims, allowing for the overall best outcome for his clients. Mr. Surmaitis and his staff will handle your claim with the utmost care and attention to detail, and provide you with personal, attentive service throughout the legal process. For more information or a free consultation, please call (800) 645-3275. The offices are located at 333 Gellert Blvd., Suite 215, Daly City, CA 94015.

About the NALA™
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Tiffani Tendell