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Massachusetts Appellate Court Affirms Reviewing Board’s Decision in Workers’ Compensation Case

In In re Gayle’s Case, a Massachusetts worker appealed an administrative judge’s 2008 order denying his claim for workers’ compensation benefits under §§ 13 and 30. In the case, a number of medical experts apparently offered testimony regarding the employee’s physical condition during a workers’ compensation hearing. According to the worker, the judge inappropriately failed to examine his MRI records and instead relied upon a report that was prepared by a radiologist when making his decision.

Four years after his benefits were denied, the worker offered additional medical testimony based on the same MRI scans. The additional evidence indicated the worker suffered from a physical abnormality that was related to his workplace accident. Since the same injury claim was previously denied, the administrative judge refused to consider the case based on the doctrine of res judicata. In addition, the judge stated the evidence was not newly discovered. After that, the worker appealed his request to the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board.

On appeal, the Reviewing Board summarily affirmed the judge’s order, and the employee filed an appeal with the Appeals Court of Massachusetts. The appellate court said newly discovered evidence is information that could not have been reasonably discovered previously and is likely to have a material impact on the results of a case. In addition, the court said it was required to review the Board’s decision for an abuse of discretion.

Next, the Appeals Court stated both MRI scans at issue were known to the worker prior to his earlier workers’ compensation hearing. In addition, the court said the purported defect established by the scans was discoverable at that time with reasonable diligence. As a result, the court stated the Board did not commit an abuse of discretion when it summarily affirmed the administrative judge’s decision to give the prior decision preclusive effect.

Additionally, the appellate court declined to overturn the Board’s decision based on the administrative judge’s purported error in properly identifying the page numbers of a medical expert’s deposition testimony because the inaccuracies did not render the judge’s decision inadequate. According to the court, the judge obviously reviewed the evidence at issue in detail because he recounted specific information that was included in the deposition when he declined to adopt the doctor’s opinion.

Since the Board did not abuse its discretion when it affirmed the administrative judge’s order denying the worker’s claim based on the preclusive effect of the doctrine of res judicata, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed the Board’s decision.

If you were injured at a Massachusetts workplace, you should discuss your rights with the knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. Our caring lawyers are available to help you recover the benefits you may be entitled to following a work-related accident. To speak with a dedicated Massachusetts workers’ compensation advocate about your case, do not hesitate to give Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. a call today at 800-367-0871 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

In Re Gayle’s Case, Mass: Appeals Court 2015

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