In a case involving issues similar to those in the D’Amato v. S.D. Warren Co. case, the Law Court was presented with questions regarding the authority of a specific Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer at issue was John McCurry. The hearing at issue in the appeal took place after the expiration of Hearing Officer McCurry’s term of office. In the D’Amato case Hearing Officer Johnson was afforded de facto authority from the Workers’ Compensation Board to decide cases presented by hearing prior to the expiration of her term. In the subject case, Hearing Officer McCurry’s expired on December 31, 2002 and the hearing was held subsequent to that date. The employer/insurer objected to Hearing Officer McCurry hearing the case although the objection was not within the time limits established by the Board for objections.
The Law Court found that even though the objection was late, because there was uncertainty by the Board as to Hearing Officer McCurry’s status, he did not retain de facto authority to decide the subject matter. Hearing Officer McCurry’s decision was reversed and remanded.