The Massachusetts legislature took measures to protect employees by passing the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). Under the Act, employers typically have to pay benefits to employees who sustain injuries while they are working. It is not uncommon, though, for employers or their insurers to attempt to avoid paying such benefits by arguing that the harm in question was not work-related. If the employer or insurer denies an employee benefits, the employee can employ the appeals process, but they must comply with the procedural requirements, otherwise their appeal may be denied, as shown in a recent Massachusetts opinion. If you were hurt while working, it is prudent to consult a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible to determine your options.

Case Setting

It is reported that the plaintiff, representing himself, previously filed an unsuccessful claim with the Department of Industrial Accidents (D.I.A.) to reinstate discontinued workers’ compensation benefits. The benefits were terminated after the defendant, the plaintiff’s employer’s insurer,  obtained judicial approval to discontinue them. The plaintiff then filed the subject civil action in seeking to reclaim his discontinued workers’ compensation payments, bypassing the D.I.A. despite prior adverse rulings from both the D.I.A. and the Appeals Court on the same matter. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed under the doctrine of res judicata; the defendant further argued for dismissal on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s claims.

Jurisdiction Over Workers’ Compensation Claims

The court reviewed the case based on undisputed facts presented by the defendant’s and the plaintiff’s submissions. It ultimately agreed with the defendant’s arguments, finding that it lacked jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s workers’ compensation claim. Continue reading →

People hurt while working can typically recover workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). Typically, the process of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits involves the injured party filing a claim and the employer’s representative conducting an investigation, the results of which are documented in a claim file. While workers’ compensation claims files may contain sensitive information, it is unlikely that they are protected from disclosure via any privilege, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you were injured on the job, it is in your best interest to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate what benefits you may be able to recover.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is alleged the plaintiff suffered injuries while working for the defendant. He then filed a workers’ compensation claim, after which he received benefits. He then filed a product liability suit against the defendant, arguing that the defendant’s defective product caused his harm. The defendant then sought a motion to compel the plaintiff to provide its workers’ compensation file, which had been handed over to the plaintiff’s counsel by the workers’ compensation carrier for the plaintiff’s employer. The defendant argued that certain information obtained by an investigation agency on behalf of the workers’ compensation carrier was crucial to the case.

It is reported that the plaintiff’s counsel had already disclosed certain portions of the file, but nine categories of information were contested. Seven of these categories comprised data acquired by the investigation agency during their investigation on behalf of the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier. The plaintiff’s counsel acknowledged that no attorney-client privilege existed between them and the carrier at the time of the investigation. Continue reading →

Under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), employers must provide injured employees with workers’ compensation benefits. In exchange for such benefits, employees are barred from pursuing civil claims for damages arising out of workplace harm against their employers. As demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts case, though, the preclusion only applies to claims against direct employers, regardless of whether a party voluntarily pays an injured employee benefits. If you were hurt while working, it is advisable to meet with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to determine your options.

Case History

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered a severe work-related injury while working for a masonry subcontractor at a construction. The plaintiff sought workers’ compensation benefits from the masonry subcontractor, which was uninsured, and subsequently received compensation from the defendant, the general contractor.

It is reported, however, that the plaintiff also initiated a lawsuit against the defendant, as well as the owner of the construction site, seeking compensation for his injuries. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff, having accepted workers’ compensation benefits, was precluded from pursuing a common law negligence claim against the defendant. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) protects employees who suffer injuries at work, in that it allows them to recover both medical and wage loss benefits. In exchange for such protections, though, the Act provides that it is the sole remedy for work-related harm. In other words, people hurt due to workplace conditions generally cannot pursue civil claims for damages against their employers. The exclusivity provisions of the Act not only preclude claims arising out of bodily harm but also prohibit employees from pursuing emotional distress claims, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued in a Massachusetts case. If you sustained harm in the workplace, you may be able to recover benefits from your employer, and you should talk to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your rights.

Facts of the Case and Procedural History

It is alleged that the plaintiff, who was a Black Muslim immigrant, worked for the defendant transportation authority since 1999. The plaintiff alleges that he faced discrimination, retaliation, and hazardous working conditions while employed by the defendant. He filed charges with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and obtained a right to sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before bringing an action in state court.

It is reported that the defendant moved to dismiss all counts of the plaintiff’s complaint, arguing in part, that the plaintiff’s emotional distress claim was pre-empted by the Act. Continue reading →

Under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), employees hurt at work can often recover benefits from their employers. In most instances, such benefits are paid by insurance companies via workers’ compensation policies. If more than one policy covers an employer, though, the company paying benefits has a right to seek contribution from other insurers covering the loss, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts case.  If you suffered injuries or contracted an illness due to workplace conditions, you might be owed benefits, and you should speak with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your potential claims.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that an employee suffered a severe injury during a business trip covered by two workers’ compensation policies from different insurers. He subsequently sought workers’ compensation benefits from his employer. The employer only notified the first insurance company of the claim. After initially covering the costs, the first insurance company later sought contribution from the second insurance company. The second insurance company refused the tender, leading the first insurance company to file an action for equitable contribution.

Reportedly, the second insurance company moved for summary judgment. The court granted the motion. The first insurance company appealed, and the trial court posed a certified question regarding workers’ compensation insurance policies to the appellate court. Specifically, the court questioned whether an insured party can choose which insurer defends and indemnifies a claim by intentionally tendering the defense to one insurer and not the other, thus precluding the insurer to which no tender was made from obtaining contribution. Continue reading →

Under Massachusetts’ Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), employers have an obligation to provide employees with workers’ compensation benefits if they are hurt on the job. In most instances, employers obtain coverage for such benefits from insurance companies. It is not uncommon for said insurance companies to place liens against any recovery an employee might have via third-party claims. As discussed in a recent Massachusetts case, such liens do not extend to damages for pain and suffering.  If you suffered harm while working, you could be owed benefits for your lost wages and medical expenses, and it is advisable to consult a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as you can to talk about your rights.

Factual Background of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiffs, two employees, suffered work-related injuries, received workers’ compensation benefits, and subsequently settled claims with third parties, including damages for pain and suffering. Both employees had the same workers’ compensation insurer. The insurer sought reimbursement under Massachusetts law from the employees’ settlements, arguing that their liens extended to damages for pain and suffering.

It is alleged that in the first employee’s case, the court rejected a settlement agreement preventing the insurer’s lien on pain and suffering damages. The first employee appealed, relying on precedent that held the insurer’s lien did not attach to such damages. In the second employee’s case, a similar settlement was approved by a different judge, and the insurer appealed. Continue reading →

People who suffer injuries during the course and scope of their employment can often recover benefits for their medical expenses under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). Notably, the act covers harm that occurs during the performance of any normal job duties, even if they seem atypical. This was demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts case in which the court affirmed an employee’s right to recover workers’ compensation benefits after she was injured working as a chaperone on a ski trip. If you were injured on the job, it is prudent to contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to talk about your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, who was a math teacher at the defendant’s high school, suffered injuries in a ski accident while serving as a chaperone for a high school ski club trip. The plaintiff then sought workers’ compensation benefits for her medical costs. The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s injury was not compensable as it happened when she was voluntarily participating in a recreational activity. The Department of Industrial Accidents’ reviewing board granted benefits to the plaintiff. In doing so, the Board found the recreational aspect of acting as a chaperone was secondary to her duties of monitoring the behavior of the students and ensuring they were safe. The city appealed.

Work-Related Activities Under the Act

On appeal, the court affirmed the board’s decision, emphasizing that a teacher acting as a chaperone for a school-sponsored activity is within the course of employment and not engaged in “recreational” activity under the Act. Examining the facts of the case, the court noted that the school-sanctioned ski club had been operating for years, with teachers serving as chaperones without direct financial compensation. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) protects employees in that it allows them to seek compensation for workplace injuries. In exchange for that right, the Act precludes them from pursuing tort claims against their employers for work-related harm. As discussed in a recent Massachusetts case, however, it does not preclude all claims against employers. If you were hurt at work, it is important to understand your rights, and you should speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff initiated legal proceedings against his former employer and its parent company, the defendants, invoking the Massachusetts Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) and alleging common law breach of contract. Initially, the court dismissed certain claims but allowed the breach of contract claim based on safety standards, reporting requirements, record-keeping, and quality assurance to proceed. Defendants subsequently sought a more definite statement, prompting the plaintiff to specify the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) of April 1, 2019, as the contractual basis for his breach of contract claims. The current matter revolves around the Defendants’ second Motion to Dismiss, seeking the dismissal of specific claims on preemption grounds.

Preclusion of Claims Under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act

The court engaged in a comprehensive analysis of the claims, first addressing the preemption issue regarding the breach of contract claims in Count III. Defendants contended that Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) preempted these claims, as they allegedly required interpretation of the CBA. The court invoked the “complete preemption” doctrine, emphasizing that claims falling within the ambit of LMRA § 301 could be deemed federal, thereby warranting removal. In this instance, the court concluded that Plaintiff’s breach of contract claims directly implicated the CBA, necessitating its interpretation, and thus fell within the scope of LMRA § 301 preemption. As a result, the court granted the Defendants’ motion to dismiss Count III, precluding state law claims based on the CBA. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) serves as the exclusive avenue for employees to recover benefits for injuries sustained in the workplace. While the Act provides a comprehensive framework for obtaining compensation for work-related harm, it also precludes employees from pursuing traditional tort claims. As explained in a recent Massachusetts case, this includes claims for emotional distress. If you suffered physical or emotional harm due to your workplace environment, it is advisable to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to determine what benefits you may be owed.

Factual Background and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was employed by the defendant in 2008; she held various positions within the company and received positive evaluations, consistent bonuses, and promotions, eventually becoming the Regional Vice President for the Northeast Region. She alleged she experienced discriminatory treatment by her direct supervisor based on her race and skin color, however, and that the supervisor gave preferential treatment to light-skinned individuals. Additionally, the plaintiff claimed promises of promotion were unfulfilled, and she faced a salary reduction when relocating due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reportedly, the work-related issues exacerbated the plaintiff’s mental health conditions, culminating in her forced resignation in December 2022. She initiated a lawsuit against the defendant in December 2022. The defendant removed the case to federal court, after which the court granted the plaintiff’s motion to file a second amended complaint. The defendant then moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claims, arguing they were precluded by the Act. Continue reading →

Under Massachusetts’s Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation benefits for employees who suffer injuries while working. Typically, employers obtain workers’ compensation insurance to ensure they can pay such benefits if necessary. If an injured employee receives workers’ compensation benefits under the terms of such a policy, they cannot then refute their employment relationship at a later date in hopes of obtaining a double recovery, as explained in a ruling recently issued by a Massachusetts court in a workers’ compensation matter. If you were hurt while working, you might be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, and it is in your best interest to talk to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to evaluate what measures you can take to protect your interests.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that in a lawsuit against the insurer of a workers’ compensation claimant’s employer, the claimant, acting as an intervenor, sought compensation from the insurer based on a default judgment obtained against the employer. The claimant argued that the workers’ compensation policy, from which they had already received benefits, was issued to an entity that was not their actual employer. The insurer moved for summary judgment, arguing that the claimant was precluded from recovering such benefits pursuant to their employment relationship with the insured, which the court granted. The claimant appealed.

Benefits Recoverable in Workers’ Compensation Claims

On appeal, the court found that the interveners failed to demonstrate any error by the trial court in granting summary judgment to the insurer. Noting the absence of evidence supporting the claim that the intervenor received benefits from an insurer covering a different party, which he deemed his actual employer, the court held that the intervener, having pursued and received benefits, could not now dispute the existence of the employer-employee relationship with the insured. The court cited case law supporting the principle that once benefits are received, challenging the employer-employee relationship is precluded. Continue reading →