Burns v. Maine Department of Public Safety

Insurance Company

Maine Workers' Compensation Division

Date Decided

October 9, 2019

Panel Members

Sue Jerome

Evelyn Knopf

Mike Stovall


Mental Stress Injury


Petition for Review Earning Capacity PTSD

File Size

92 KB


Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys

The WCB Appellate Division affirmed Judge Hirtle’s decision denying the Department’s Petition for Review of Incapacity, finding that the record contained competent evidence supporting his factual finding that Mr. Burns had no earning capacity.

Mr. Burns had PTSD from his work as a state trooper and left that job to perform carpentry, but his PTSD apparently prevented him from continuing even that job. The Department had surveillance showing Mr. Burns “helping out” at a campsite, and the Department’s medical expert said Mr. Burns had a work capacity.

Mr. Burns and his treating doctor said that, although he was active in his community, he had no real earning capacity, and the Appellate Division panel held that Judge Hirtle was entitled to adopt that evidence over the opinion of the Department's medical expert. The Department argued that Mr. Burns was not credible, as at hearing he failed to admit his activities, but the panel held that Judge Hirtle was in the best position to judge Mr. Burns’ credibility.

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