Brenda White v. Maine Dept. of Transportation
State of Maine
May 5, 2022
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Brenda White v. Maine DOT (attached) - In 2010 Ms. White developed bilateral arm injuries at work requiring right elbow surgery. She returned to work without restrictions but with continued symptoms that caused her to miss nearly half of her scheduled shifts. In 2011, she accepted early non-disability retirement, but on her last schedule day of work she called out and did not work.
In 2013 White started a retail job, and in 2018 she went out of work for additional surgery on her arms. She could not return to her retail job, and she filed petitions requesting payment of medical bills and lost time benefits retroactive to her retirement. The Maine DOT voluntarily paid her medical bills and total incapacity benefits after each surgery, but the DOT declined to pay her partial incapacity benefits after her retirement, because of the §223 retirement presumption.
At hearing, White said she did not work the day before her retirement began because she did not feel physically capable of doing it. Judge Knopf found that she had a work capacity, and that she had terminated "active employment," so §223 created a rebuttable presumption that she had no loss of earning capacity attributable to her prior work injury. Judge Knopf found that Ms. White had not rebutted the retirement presumption and denied her request for further incapacity benefits.
White appealed, and the WCB Appellate Division upheld her appeal. The panel vacated Judge Knopf's decision, and remanded the case to her for further findings on whether the DOT proved that White retired from active employment even though she did not work on the effective date of her retirement. The panel held that §223 required the DOT to demonstrate that White's absence from work at the time of her retirement was not due to her work injury.