Knox v. Irving Forest Products, Inc., 112219 MEWC, 19-39

Docket Nº:Decision 19-39
Case Date:November 22, 2019
Court:Maine
 
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SHERRY M. KNOX (Appellee)
v.
IRVING FOREST PRODUCTS, INC. (Appellant)
and
LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY (Insurer)
Decision No. 19-39
App. Div. No. 17-0039
Maine Workers Compensation Decisions
State of Maine Workers’ Compensation Board
November 22, 2019
          Attorney for Appellant: Richard D. Bayer, Esq. ROBINSON, KRIGER & McCALLUM           Attorney for Appellee: Karen M. Bilodeau, Esq. McTEAGUE HIGBEE           PANEL MEMBERS: Administrative Law Judges Elwin, Jerome, and Knopf           Elwin, Administrative Law Judge.          [¶1] Irving Forest Products and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company appeal from a decision of a Workers’ Compensation Board administrative law judge (Goodnough, ALJ) granting Sherry Knox’s Petitions for Award and for Payment of Medical and Related Services based on a gradual right hip injury dated July 22, 2015. Irving asserts that the ALJ erred by determining that the date of injury was July 22, 2015, and by finding that Ms. Knox provided Irving with timely notice of the injury. Because it is unclear that the ALJ applied the correct legal standard, we vacate the decision and remand for determinations of the date of injury and the date Ms. Knox’s notice obligation arose.          I. BACKGROUND          [¶2] Ms. Knox worked for Irving as a lumber handler. Her work duties involved repetitively grabbing boards of wood as they passed, planting her right foot, then lifting or sliding the board while either moving to the right or twisting to stack them on a rack. This activity resulted in a repetitive and significant load on her right hip and lower back.          [¶3] Ms. Knox experienced hip pain in February 2015 and connected that pain to her work activity at that time. However, she did not seek medical treatment or miss work because of her pain until July 2015. In May 2016, she filed Petitions for Award and for Payment of Medical and Related Services alleging a gradual right hip injury dated July 22, 2015, which was her last day of work at Irving. The ALJ granted both petitions, finding that Ms. Knox sustained a gradual right hip injury caused by the repetitive motions she performed as part of her job.          [¶4] During litigation, the parties disputed both the date of injury and the date Ms. Knox provided notice to the employer. Irving asserted that the work injury manifested itself in February 2015, but Ms. Knox did not provide notice until she filed her Petitions in May 2016, well beyond the applicable thirty-day notice period set forth in 39-A M.R.S.A. § 301 (Supp. 2018).1 Ms. Knox asserted that she had notified her tech trainer/team leader, Shirley Garland, in February 2015, and her shift supervisor/team leader, Michael Ladd, by the end of her last shift of work on July 21-22, 2015.          [¶5] There was conflicting evidence on these points. Ms. Knox testified that Ms. Garland had assisted her in “popping” her hip back into place on three or four occasions in the ladies’ room at work, and that she told Ms. Garland at that time that her hip problems were work-related. Ms. Garland testified that although Ms. Knox...

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