Vicki Freeman v. Maine Medical Partners
August 30, 2021
mistake of fact
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
The ALJ remands one of two petitions for award granted by ALJ Jerome for further findings on when the employee's mistake of fact ended.
Ms. Freeman suffered a no lost time right carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) injury in 2015. She continued to work with some symptoms and developed mild left CTS symptoms before leaving work for a non-work related hip condition on July 11, 2017. She finally saw her PCP for symptoms in October 2017. On January 10, 2018 she filed petitions for award alleging CTS injuries of 12/29/15 and 7/11/17. MMP raised notice as a defense to the 7/11/17 date. On January 18, 2018 an EMG completed by Dr. Pavlak demonstrated severe left CTS.
The ALJ found that Ms. Freeman was under a mistake of fact as to the nature, cause and work relatedness of her left CTS, reasoning that because her left CTS symptoms were mild she was unaware of the nature and cause of her left CTS until the EMG showed severe left CTS.
MMP argued that there was no competent evidence that Ms. Freeman was under a mistake of fact or provided timely notice of the 2017 injury. It also maintained it was error to award partial benefits because she left work for a non-work related condition.
The Appellate Division vacated the ALJ's finding of mistake of fact and timely notice because it was inconsistent with other findings, namely, that the mistake of fact lasted until the EMG of January 17, 2018, when the employee actually filed petitions 7 days earlier on January 10, 2018. The panel remanded for the ALJ to determine when the mistake of fact ended, and whether that determination changes the level of benefits she is entitled to.