Johnson v. Home Depot
January 21, 2014
Benefits Payments Delivery of Payments Service of Petitions §307
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Ms. Johnson left her home and disappeared, and neither her family nor the police were able to find her. Pursuant to a prior consent decree, Home Depot was paying Ms. Johnson partial incapacity benefits; pursuant to a Designation of Payment, Home Depot was sending her check to her attorney, who was deducting his fee and sending the remainder to Ms. Johnson’s home address.
After Ms. Johnson disappeared, a probate judge appointed her daughter as temporary guardian and conservator, including the power to handle her workers’ compensation benefits. Home Depot scheduled a §207 exam, which the employee missed; Home Depot filed a Petition for Review and Petition for Forfeiture, serving Ms. Johnson's attorneys by certified mail. Her attorney argued that such service did not satisfy §307 of the Act, and that the WCB has no authority to fashion remedies not expressly authorized by the Act.
Hearing Officer Jerome found service to be adequate and entered the interim and final orders described above. The Appellate Division affirmed her decisions, noting that the Maine Supreme Court has recognized the Board's “broad decision-making authority to interpret the Act,” and to fill in the “gray areas” as needed. In this case, the Board’s broad powers inured to the employer's benefit, but the facts of this case are unusual, so the precedential effect of this decision is limited.