Elizabeth Flesher v. Inland Hospital
Maine Municipal Association
February 28, 2022
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Elizabeth Flesher v. Inland Hospital - Flesher had a long-standing, pre-existing back condition and performed file retrieval in the records room at Inland Hospital. She told her supervisor that she was having increased back pain, and she asked HR to reassign her, which they did, until she went out of work entirely. HR asked her if she wanted to make a workers’ comp claim and Flesher said no, but she then filed petitions, and Inland raised the notice defense under §301.
Judge Elwin initially found she had given timely notice, but Inland appealed, and the Appellate Division remanded the case for further findings. On remand, Judge Elwin reversed her decision, found that Flesher had not provided adequate notice, and denied her petitions. Flesher appealed, but the Appellate Division affirmed the decision.
Citing the Law Court's 1978 Farrow decision, the panel held that §301 requires the injured employee to state not just the mere fact of an injury, but also the cause of disability, i.e., "some indication that the injury might be work-related and therefore compensable." On remand, Judge Elwin found that Flesher may simply have told her supervisor that her back was bothering her without explaining that it may be work-related. She also found that Inland HR asking whether she was claiming workers’ compensation did not mean that they had notice it was a work-related injury.