Pelletier v. Town of Acton
Maine Municipal Association
August 13, 2020
CategoriesGradual Injury Notice Gradual Injury Notice
Gradual Injury Carpal Tunnel Pre-Existing Teacher Multiple Injuries
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Ms. Pelletier is a special education teacher who had pre-existing carpal tunnel syndrome that surgery had largely resolved, before her symptoms were aggravated by her increased workload at school. Although she knew that her work had aggravated her arm condition, she did not notify the school until almost a year later, after she saw a specialist who told her that her condition may be work-related. Ms. Pelletier filed petitions alleging an injury date that was within 30 days of the date she gave notice. The town raised the notice defense and argued for an earlier injury date, outside of the 30 day notice period.
Judge Stovall found that Ms. Pelletier knew her condition was work-related 8 months earlier than her petition alleged, and that she failed to report it to the school in a timely fashion. Ms. Pelletier also claimed “mistake of fact,” arguing she did not know it was a new injury, but the Board found otherwise. Ms. Pelletier appealed, but the Appellate Division affirmed Judge Stovall's decision.
The Appellate Division reviewed Maine case law on establishing the date of a gradual injury, which could be the date the employee first had symptoms, the date the employee first got medical attention, or the date the employee started losing time from work. The Appellate Division found that Judge Stovall was within his discretion to establish the date of injury on the date that the employee believed her pain was due to her work, and to therefore find that her notice was late.