O'Brien v. Southern Maine Medical Center

Insurance Company


Date Decided

October 25, 2016

Panel Members

Glen Goodnough

Sue Jerome

Evelyn Knopf




Pre-Existing Causation Shoulder §201(1)

File Size

175 KB


Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys

In O'Brien v. Southern Maine Medical Center, O'Brien was a medical assistant who injured her shoulder when she fell at work as a result of pre-existing dizziness. Judge Stovall denied her petitions, finding that she failed to prove a causal connection between her injury and her employment. O'Brien requested further findings of fact on whether a misplaced folding chair caused or contributed to her fall, or whether the laptop she was carrying prevented her from breaking her fall with both hands. Although Judge Stovall made further findings of fact, he did not address all of O’Brien's factual contentions. The Appellate Division panel determined that his findings did not adequately address O'Brien's arguments or provide an adequate basis for appellate review, and they remanded the case for further findings.

This decision provides guidance for parties and practitioners in future similar cases, and they show that, just because an injury or illness occurs at work, that does not make it compensable under the Maine Worker’s Compensation Act. To be compensable under 39-A MRSA §201 (1), the injury must not only arise “in the course of” the employment, it must also arise “out of” the employment and not out of the employee's pre-existing condition alone.

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