Steven Michaud v. Caribou Ford Mercury, Inc.– Appellate Division affirms the ALJ holding that interest on a specific loss benefit award for loss of an eye runs from the date of MMI, and not the date of injury. In Michaud v. Caribou Ford Mercury, Inc., Dec. No. 23-12, Michaud suffered a serious left eye injury in 2014. He underwent 5 unsuccessful surgeries. Dr. Mainen concluded that he had an 80% loss of vision and reached MMI on 10/14/21. In March 2022 the parties entered a Mediation Agreement whereby the employer agreed to pay 162 weeks of incapacity benefits for total loss of the eye under the specific loss provisions of 39-A M.R.S.A. sec. 212(3)(M). Importantly, it allowed the employer an offset for all lost time benefits paid since the date of injury. On his Petition for Specific Loss Benefits Michaud argued the ALJ erred by concluding the benefits were first due on the date of MMI, and thus interest began to run on that date pursuant to sec. 205(6)- “10% per annum from the date each payment was due, until paid”. Michaud argued that because he lost 80% of vision on the date of injury, and the vision never improved, the payment was due on the date of injury.

The Appellate Division disagreed, citing the Law Court case of Tracy v. Hersey Creamery Co., 1998 ME 247, where the Court held that although sec. 212(3)(M) does not use the language “maximum medical improvement”, other language of the subsection requires a “reasonable medical endpoint” for the specific loss determination. Dr. Mainen’s MMI opinion provided that endpoint. Because he raised the issue for the first time on appeal, the panel declined to address Michaud’s argument that because the Mediation Agreement allowed an offset retroactive to the date of injury, the employer was bound to a finding that the payment was due as of the date of injury.

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Thomas Getchell
Daniel F. Gilligan