Deroche v. Ethan Allen
Charter Oak Fire Insurance
July 31, 2015
Tuition Vocational Rehabilitation Shoulder Neck Face Head Incapacity Benefits Reimbursement
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
A hearing officer cannot award reimbursement of college tuition costs an injured employee incurs before the development of an approved vocational rehabilitation plan.
Deroche injured her shoulder, neck, face and head in two work injuries and received closed-end incapacity benefits before returning to work. Ethan Allen then laid her off, and Deroche took classes for two years at UMaine-Rumford, earning an Associate’s Degree. She then filed an Application for Evaluation of Employment Rehabilitation Services, which was granted. Counselor Steve Freeman evaluated Deroche and reported that she was expecting her Bachelor’s Degree soon and had an internship with an employer; he recommended updating her resume and getting voice recognition software.
Deroche filed a Petition to Determine Entitlement to Rehab Services, seeking reimbursement of the tuition costs she incurred in her final two years at UMaine. H.O. Goodnough granted the other recommended services but denied her tuition reimbursement request, as it wasn’t art of the Rehab Plan, §217 does not provide for direct payment by an employer to an employee, and it doesn’t allow retroactive payment for expenditures an employee makes before a plan is developed. Deroche appealed, but the panel upheld H.O. Goodnough’s decision, holding that any one of his stated reasons was sufficient.