Pizzi v. Nestle Waters North America, Inc.
September 8, 2020
CategoriesPartial Benefits / Refusal of Employment
§214 Refusal of Employment Arms Neck Wrist Elbow Repetitive Injury
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
The Maine Workers’ Compensation Board Appellate Division recently issued an opinion affirming a decision finding that, under §214 of the WC Act, the employee had “good and reasonable cause to refuse a bona fide offer of reasonable employment,” and awarding her incapacity benefits according to her decreased income at a different employer.
Pizzi’s job at Nestle required extensive and repetitive gripping, pinching and lifting. She developed injuries to both arms and her neck, undergoing surgeries to her wrist and elbow, and requiring restrictions to avoid repetitive hand work. Nestle twice offered her a return to full-time work within her restrictions, but both times it increased her arm pain. Pizzi found suitable part-time work elsewhere paying less than her Nestle job.
Nestle discontinued Pizzi’s incapacity benefits, arguing that she had refused reasonable employment. Pizzi filed a petition for review, which Judge Collier granted. He found that Nestle’s job offer was reasonable but that Pizzi had “good and reasonable cause” to reject it because of Nestle’s inability to modify the job sufficiently to accommodate her restrictions. He also found that her lower earnings at her new job accurately reflected her earning capacity and awarded her ongoing fixed partial benefits.
Nestle appealed, but the Appellate Division panel affirmed Judge Collier’s findings and decision, holding that they were within his decision as factfinder, and that competent evidence in the record supported them.