Mead v. Fairchild Semiconductor
December 23, 2020
CategoriesPermanent Impairment Procedure Durational Limit Durational Limit Permanent Impairment Procedure
ripeness abuse of discretion
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Rebecca Mead v. Fairchild Semiconductor (attached) – In 2010 Mead injured herself at work and Fairchild paid her ongoing partial incapacity benefits. In 2017 Fairchild filed a Petition to Determine Permanent Impairment and got a §312 IME opinion assessing 12% PI – just below the threshold for lifetime partial benefits. Mead presented no PI opinion, but in 2018 Judge Jerome dismissed Fairchild’s PI petition as unripe, since Mead’s PI might change in the 3 years before the durational limit expired in January 2021.
Fairchild appealed, but the Appellate Division held that Judge Jerome did not abuse her discretion in dismissing the PI petition filed 4 years before Fairchild could discontinue benefits. The petition was filed on 3/23/17, the decree was issued on 3/9/18, the appeal was argued on 9/26/18, and the appellate decision was issued on 12/23/20, just a few weeks before the durational limit was due to expire on 1/18/21. The appellate panel ruled that the dismissal was consistent with the Board’s obligation to “administer justice efficiently.”
The panel noted that, to avoid overpayment, the Maine Supreme Court’s 2003 Young decision allowed PI petitions before actual benefit termination, but they also noted the Court’s 2017 Bailey decision holding that PI, once established by decree, cannot be relitigated. In her decree Judge Jerome had suggested that, consistent with Young, Bailey and judicial efficiency, PI petitions should be filed only 12-18 months before the durational limit expires, but she probably did not anticipate a nearly 3-year appellate process.