Wickett v. University of Maine System
August 31, 2017
CategoriesLegal Causation Medical Evidence Legal Causation Medical Evidence
Slip & Fall Temporal Relationship Causation
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Ms. Wickett fell down icy stairs at work, causing contusions. A month later she was diagnosed with a retroperitoneal mass requiring surgical removal. She alleged that her fall caused the need for surgery, and she presented Judge Hirtle with a medical report from her surgeon speculating that, because of the “temporal relationship” between her work injury and the discovery of the mass, the causal link between them “certainly makes this a likely possibility.” Judge Hirtle granted Ms. Wickett's petitions and awarded incapacity and medical benefits, and UMS appealed.
The WCB Appellate Division panel vacated the decision and entered an order requiring the petitions to be denied on incapacity and treatment related to the mass, but the panel allowed the protection of the WC Act only for her contusions. The panel cited prior Maine Supreme Court cases stressing the need for probative evidence, not just conjectures. This AD decision, of course, applies equally to employers who have the burden of proof (e.g. on petitions for review of incapacity), requiring them also to produce medical evidence of probabilities (“more likely than not”), not just possibilities.