Court Dismisses Civil Claims Related to the Administration of a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Case

People that suffer injuries at work do not always agree with their employers as to how their workers’ compensation claims should be handled. Merely because a party disagrees with the administration of their claim, though, does not mean that they have the right to pursue claims against their employer under other causes of action. This was demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts opinion in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s civil claims against his employer that arose out of a dispute over the settlement of his workers’ compensation claim. If you sustained injuries at work, you should talk to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer regarding your rights.

The History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was convicted of workers’ compensation fraud. He then filed a civil lawsuit against representatives of his former employer, his former employer, and other entities, alleging that they conspired to extort funds from him while they were in the process of negotiating his workers’ compensation claim settlement and that his lump sump workers’ compensation settlement was the product of extortion. In his complaint, he alleged negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, loss of consortium, and violations of the unfair trade practices act claims. The defendant employers moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s emotional distress and violation of the unfair trade practice act claims via summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, and he appealed.

Exclusivity of the Workers’ Compensation Act

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling on the motion for summary judgment. The court noted that even assuming the conduct alleged in the plaintiff’s complaint was true, it arose out of his employment and the administration of his workers’ compensation claim. Thus, such allegations were fundamentally encompassed within the overall framework of workers’ compensation and fell outside of the cope of unfair or deceptive business practices between arms-length entities as alleged in the plaintiff’s complaint.

The court elaborated that even in cases where there is an overlap between workers’ compensation claims and unfair trade practice claims, the remedies provided by the workers’ compensation act are exclusive of those provided by the unfair trade practices statute. Based on the foregoing, the appellate court found that the trial court did not err in dismissing the unfair trade practices act claim.

Speak to an Experienced Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

People who are injured at work are often able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, but if they do not agree with the manner in which their employer handles their claim, they cannot pursue other causes of action against them. If you sustained losses in a work accident, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer with the skills and knowledge needed to help you seek a just outcome, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact him by calling 508-822-6600 or using the online form to set up a conference.