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Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Case Vacated Over Administrative Judge’s Error

A Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits award must be based on the evidence included in the record. In Outridge v. MCI Concord, a man began working as a correction officer in 1987. About six years later, the man apparently hurt his hand in a prison riot. Although he was out of work for about three months, the officer returned to his full duty until June 2013, when his injury purportedly made it impossible for him to continue working. The correction officer ultimately chose to retire three months later.

After the worker retired, he sought medical and incapacity benefits from his former employer. According to the correction officer, he suffered arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of his 1993 hand injury and an October 2012 workplace incident that aggravated his prior harm. The man’s employer denied both of his workers’ compensation benefits requests.

Next, an administrative judge issued two orders following a § 10A conference. The judge stated liability was established for the correction officer’s 1993 hand injury. Despite this, he declined to award benefits for the harm. In addition, the administrative judge ruled that the employer should pay the officer §§ 13 and 30 medical benefits for treatment, surgery, and aftercare as well as § 34 benefits for 60 days beginning on the date of the requested surgical procedure.

Following an appeal by both the worker and his former employer, the correction officer was examined by a neutral doctor pursuant to § 11A. Without issuing any findings of fact, the judge ruled the employee met his burden of proof and demonstrated that the officer’s disability was causally related to his workplace injuries. As a result, the administrative judge found that the officer was entitled to receive medical and disability payments.

On appeal to the Department of Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board, the employer argued the judge committed error when he issued his award because there was no evidence to support the employee’s claim that he was hurt at work in October 2012. The employer also maintained that the judge failed to issue findings of fact with regard to the employer’s assertion that it was not provided with notice about the officer’s purported workplace harm. The Board agreed and stated the judge’s decision was insufficient because it provided no findings of fact related to the correction officer’s October 2012 injury, nor did it address the employer’s defense that it was not provided with sufficient notice of the man’s alleged harm. Because of this, the Board stated it was unable to discern whether the administrative judge properly applied the law.

Since the judge’s decision was insufficient, the Department of Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board vacated his decision and recommitted the case for further findings of fact related to the retired correction officer’s alleged 2012 workplace injury and the employer’s notice regarding the worker’s resulting harm.

If you are a correction officer or other worker who was injured at a Massachusetts workplace, you may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation disability and other benefits. The skilled lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. are available to help you file your workers’ compensation benefits claim. To discuss your rights with a hardworking Boston workers’ compensation attorney soon, contact Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. online or call us at 800-367-0871.

Additional Resources:

Outridge v. MCI Concord, Department of Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board Nos. 002033-93 and 033126-12 (September 21, 2015)

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