Martin v. Scott Paper
Sentry Insurance Company
January 26, 2018
Eye Change in Medical Circumstances Change in Economic Circumstances
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Mr. Martin injured his eye at work in 1977 and received total incapacity benefits for 3 years. The former WCC determined then that, despite his ongoing symptoms, Mr. Martin had regained a full work capacity, and that his inability to find a job then was because of the general economic conditions, not any work limitations related to his work injury.
After several prior unsuccessful attempts to obtain additional benefits, Mr. Martin filed a Petition for Restoration in 2015, even though his eye condition was essentially the same as it had been in the past and was not disabling. As in his past attempts, Mr. Martin tried to overcome the res judicata effect of the prior decrees by arguing that his economic circumstances had changed, even though his medical circumstances had not changed. Judge Elwin denied his petition, and Mr. Martin appealed.
The Appellate Division panel upheld her decision, holding that, in order to prevail on his petition, Mr. Tucker would have to show a change in his medical circumstances, i.e., that "his eye condition had become more limiting." The panel held that Judge Elwin was correct in finding that, by showing a change only in his economic circumstances, Mr. Tucker did not overcome the res judicata effect of the prior decisions.