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WCB App Div Decisions

During the second week of January, 2017, the WCB Appellate Division has issued two new decisions:

In Dugal v. Twin Rivers Paper Co., Dugal injured her left knee and sought reimbursement for the medical marijuana she purchased, among other medical bills. Judge Pelletier denied that portion of her petition, finding that she failed to prove that the cannabis was for treatment of her work injury.

Dugal appealed only the finding that her neck and mid back conditions were not related to the work injury. She argued on appeal that she never claimed at hearing they were related, and she was concerned that res judicata would bar her from ever claiming they related. The Appellate Division affirmed the decision, however, allowing the parties to litigate the compensability of the neck and back conditions and the res judicata issue, should they arise in later litigation.

In Lenna St. Louis v. Acadia Hospital Corporation, St. Louis was a CNA who was struck in the head by a psychiatric patient. She left her job a few years later and was soon hired as a part-time cashier at a grocery store. At about the same time, Acadia offered her a full time position at a higher wage, which St. Louis rejected because she already had a new job which she felt was more suitable and was closer to her home. Dr. Voss performed a §312 IME and found that the Acadia offer would be inappropriate, not because the work was beyond her capability, but because it would expose St. Louis to further patient assaults.

Hearing Officer Gary Greene found that St. Louis had "good and reasonable cause" to reject Acadia's offer, because she already had obtained the new job at the store. Acadia appealed, arguing that HO Greene should have considered other factors relevant to St. Louis's decision to decline the Acadia job. The panel agreed, vacated the decision, and remanded it back to the hearing level for further analysis. Because HO Greene has retired, however, Judge David Hirtle will likely decide the case.

If you have any questions about these or any other cases, please let us know.

Thomas Getchell
Daniel Gilligan
Michael Richards
Attorneys at Law