Abel Lang v. Energy North, Inc.– Because the ALJ simply repeated testimony and arguments made without stating which testimony was believed or factual findings made, the resulting decision is insufficient for appellate review of the conclusion that Lang had not met his burden of proving a work injury occurred. In Lang v. Energy North, Inc., Dec. No. 22-33, Lang felt a “tweak in his back” while working on January 6, 2020. The emergency room report did not mention this injury and instead stated there was no specific trauma. The report does mention a prior work injury. At hearing Lang’s supervisor testified that Lang did not tell her he had injured himself on January 6, 2020. The employer also had text messages following the ER visit where Lang references back problems but makes no mention of the injury.

The ALJ found that the supervisor’s testimony and other record evidence was “at odds” with Lang’s testimony and concluded that Lang failed to persuade the board that he had sustained a work-related injury. Lang filed a motion for further findings of fact and conclusions of law, which the ALJ denied. Lang appealed, arguing the decision was in error because the findings of fact were unclear and incomplete. The Appellate Division agreed and vacated the decision, remanding the case for additional findings of fact.

Because Lang moved for further findings of fact the Appellate Division was constrained to review the case on the factual findings presented. While it may be inferred that the ALJ credited the testimony of the employer’s witness over that of the employee or “found the evidence to be in equipoise”, there were no findings to this effect. As such, the findings of fact were insufficient for appellate review.

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Thomas Getchell
Daniel F. Gilligan