Ouellette v. Ouellette Funeral & Memorial Services, Inc.
Maine Employers' Mutual Insurance Co.
August 14, 2019
sole owner and employee of company chemicals skin
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
AD vacated Judge Pelletier’s denial of petitions based on §301’s requirement that self-employed individuals provide notice of injury to the insurer within 90 days. Ouellette is the sole owner and employee of Ouellette Funeral & Memorial Services, Inc. He learned no later than 2/7/12 that his skin disorder was caused by contact with formaldehyde at work. Ouellette provided notice to MEMIC on 5/17/12. While §301 requires self-employed individuals to provide notice to the insurance carrier or its agent, employees of corporations may provide notice to “any official of the corporation.” The ALJ reasoned that construing the term “self-employed” to exclude a one owner/one employee corporation would lead to the absurd result of the employee’s own knowledge of the injury would satisfying the notice requirement, and no notice would ever have to be given to the insurer.
The AD disagreed, relying on the language of the statute, which makes no distinction between “closely-held” corporations and other corporations. Thus, §301 could not be construed to require the sole owner of a closely-held corporation to comply with the notice requirements of a self-employed person. Therefore, Ouellette’s own knowledge of his injury satisfied the notice requirements under §301.