Stevens v. L.L. Bean

Decided: March 3, 2017

Topic: Change in Medical Circumstances & Res Judicata

For full text of the decision, visit:

Gowen v. L.L. Bean

Decided: February 3, 2017

Topic: Permanent Impairment

This appellate decision presents an interesting look at burden shifting when permanent impairment [PI] is at issue. The panel felt the employee, Ms. Gowen, had met her burden to produce “some evidence to persuade a reasonable fact-finder of the existence of a genuine issue concerning the percentage of permanent impairment.” Ms. Gowen alleged there were additional neck and upper back symptoms related to her injury, which should then be included in her PI evaluation. The panel then goes on to discuss the shift to L.L. Bean’s ‘ultimate’ burden to prove Ms. Gowen’s PI does not exceed the threshold. However, since L.L. Bean did not address these newly alleged symptoms in her neck and upper back with the assessments, they were deemed to not have met their burden – one which is not clearly outlined in this decision, but seemingly remains at the more likely than not level of most issues within our system.

Fuller v. Hannaford Brothers Co.

Decided: February 17, 2017

Topic: Appellate Review Standards

This recent decision by the Appellate Division reviews the role the panel plays when evaluating legal causation determinations of an underlying Administrative Law Judge. The Law Court has stated that this “task is not to determine whether the [ALJ] reached the only correct conclusion but rather, whether [the ALJ’s] conclusion is permissible on the record before us.” Comeau v. Maine Coastal Services, 449 A.2d 362, 369 (Me. 1982). Thus, while the panel members may not have made the same determination themselves, this alone does not allow them to overturn the decision.

Paradis v. Twin Rivers Paper Company

Decided: January 23, 2017

Topic: Retirement Presumption

In this recent Appellate Division decision, the retirement presumption in §223 of the Workers’ Compensation Act was addressed. For those unfamiliar with this particular section of the Act, the retirement presumption stands for the premise that upon retirement from active employment, when receipt of retirement benefits begins, it is presumed a loss of earnings does not exist. The employee may rebut this presumption with a preponderance of evidence for total incapacity, but should they fail, entitlement to incapacity benefits will be denied.

Stoliker v. Northern Maine Medical Center

Decided: January 6, 2017

Topic: Res Judicata

The first Appellate Division decision of 2017 echoes the cluster of res judicata cases from the end of 2016 with some additional interesting highlights regarding §312 opinions and contrary medical evidence.