Stevens v. LL Bean
Maine Employers' Mutual Insurance Company
March 3, 2017
Back Partial Benefits Comparative Medical Evidence
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Stevens injured his back at work and received a 2013 decree entitling him to ongoing partial benefits. Stevens later filed a petition for review, alleging total incapacity, but he failed to produce any "comparative medical evidence" comparing his present condition to his condition in 2013. Instead, he presented reports indicating only current opinions of total incapacity. Judge Stovall denied Stevens’ petition on grounds of res judicata, and Stevens appealed.
The Appellate Division rejected Stevens’ argument that Judge Stovall should have made the medical comparison himself by using the reports in evidence showing total incapacity. The panel agreed that Stevens failed to meet his burden of production or proof as he did not submit a "comparative medical opinion in which the practitioner reviewed the medical evidence relied on in 2013 and opined that Mr. Stevens’ condition had deteriorated." The same, of course, applies to employers who seek to change compensation payment schemes established by prior ALJ decisions: truly “comparative” medical evidence is required.