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Former Massachusetts Corrections Officer Entitled to Assault Pay For Duration of Workers’ Compensation Award

Overseeing jails and prisons can be mentally and physically difficult. Unfortunately, corrections officers in Massachusetts and elsewhere may be exposed to dangerous working conditions on a daily basis. In Marchand v. Department of Correction, a Massachusetts corrections officer was assaulted by an inmate in January 2008. As a result of the incident, the man suffered a compensable injury and received § 34 temporary total disability workers’ compensation benefits for six months and § 35 partial disability payments for five years.

In October 2010, the man’s employer requested a hearing in order to ascertain whether the officer was medically able to return to work. After determining the man was not able to return to work, the officer’s employment was terminated. Until the worker was terminated, he received assault pay benefits in addition to his workers’ compensation benefits. Such payments are designed to make up the difference between the workers’ compensation benefits received by an injured employee and his or her typical wages.

In June 2011, the corrections officer received final approval to begin an accidental disability retirement. Despite this, the man continued to receive § 35 partial disability benefits until July 2013. After retiring, the former corrections worker sought assault pay benefits extending from the date of his termination through the expiration of his workers’ compensation award. The man’s employer denied his request and stated the former officer’s right to receive such payments ended with his employment.

Next, the man asked a Massachusetts superior court to issue an award stating he was entitled to receive assault pay for the entire period he recovered workers’ compensation benefits under Massachusetts law. Both the worker and the employer then filed a motion for summary judgment with the court. In general, a motion for summary judgment asks a court to rule in favor of one party to a lawsuit without going to trial. Such an award is appropriate when there are no material facts in dispute and one party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

The superior court found that the Massachusetts Legislature intended injured workers who are eligible to receive assault pay to collect the benefit for the entire time they may recover workers’ compensation payments. As a result, the court granted the former corrections worker’s motion. In response, the man’s former employer appealed the superior court’s decision to the Appeals Court of Massachusetts.

On appeal, the worker’s former employer argued that assault pay benefits were contingent on an injured employee’s continued employment. The employer also claimed the man’s request should be denied because allowing such payments to continue beyond termination could result in a windfall to the employee. After analyzing relevant Massachusetts case law, the appellate court stated both of the employer’s arguments were previously rejected by the courts. Since the former corrections officer was entitled to continue receiving assault pay benefits, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed the superior court’s judgment.

If you are a Massachusetts corrections officer who was injured at work, you should discuss your right to recover benefits with the veteran workers’ compensation lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. Our skillful attorneys are available to help you recover the compensation you may be entitled to following a work-related injury. To speak with an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation advocate about your case, give Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. a call at 800-367-0871 or contact us online.

Additional Resources:

Marchand v. Department of Correction, Mass: Appeals Court 2015

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