Dube v. Twin Rivers Paper Company
April 25, 2019
CategoriesPartial Incapacity Reinstatement
Back Paper Mill Partial Incapacity Reinstatement of Employment Durational Limit Res Judicata
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Ms. Dube injured her back in 1998, and Twin Rivers paid her partial incapacity benefits accordingly. Former HO Sprague issued a decree in 2001 granting Ms. Dube's petition for reinstatement and ordering Twin Rivers to "return her to her prior position with light-duty work as it became available." Twin Rivers returned Ms. Dube to work for 2 years thereafter, but she then left work due to a separate non-work injury, after which Twin Rivers terminated her employment, claiming an inability to accommodate her restrictions.
Ms. Dube filed a petition for restoration, which Judge Pelletier granted in 2006, finding that Twin Rivers had not proven that it could not offer suitable light duty work. He further concluded that Twin Rivers had "failed to comply" with the 2001 reinstatement order, disqualifying Twin Rivers from reducing or terminating benefits and ordering payment of 100% partial incapacity benefits. In 2013, Twin Rivers filed a petition for review seeking to discontinue benefits per the 520-week cap on partial benefits. In 2016, Judge Pelletier denied that petition on the basis of res judicata from the 2006 decision.
Twin Rivers appealed, arguing that the §213 cap on benefits superseded the employee's reinstatement rights under §218. The panel disagreed, finding that Twin Rivers could have appealed the prior decisions or could have "filed a petition seeking to demonstrate compliance with the [reinstatement] decree." Twin Rivers contended that §218 contains time limitations of 2 to 3 years after the date of injury, but again the panel held that this argument was barred by res judicata, as Twin Rivers did not previously raise this argument when it could have done so.