Roberta Donahue v. N.D. Paper, Inc.
July 6, 2023
Katherine Gatti Rooks
CategoriesBoard IME Pre-Existing Injury Notice Board IME Notice Pre-Existing Injury
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Roberta Donahue v. ND Paper Inc. – Donahue sustained 6 separate injuries while working at the Rumford Maine papermill. The injury dates spanned 1983 to 2019 while the mill was owned and insured by separate entities. On January 22, 2019 Donahue sustained a neck and back injury while lifting a heavy drive off a shelf. She reported the injury the next day. Subsequently Donahue filed a petition for award alleging both gradual and acute neck injuries. The ALJ found that failure to provide notice of a gradual injury on the same date of the acute injury did bar a claim on the gradual injury for want of timely notice. On appeal ND Paper claimed that allowing the gradual injury claim will encourage employees to “tack on” gradual injury claims to acute injuries. The Appellate Division disagreed, recognizing that an employee who makes a report of injury in good faith may not recognize every detail or significance of the injury events. The panel also rejected ND Paper’s argument that the ALJ should have discounted Dr. Bradford’s 312 IME opinion on apportionment because the doctor admitted some speculation was involved. Finally, while the ALJ may have misstated the standards for applying sec. 201(4), the record establishes the ALJ’s conclusions were based on the proper standard.