Massachusetts Court Finds No Newly Discovered Evidence in Workers’ Compensation Case

The Appeals Court of Massachusetts issued a recent opinion, In re Gayle’s case, 87 Mass.App.Ct. 1129 (2015), affirming the reviewing board’s decision to deny benefits in a workers’ compensation case.

On appeal was the issue of whether new medical opinions offered by the employee could overcome the preclusive effect of a prior decision from 2008, in which his benefits claim was denied for the same injury. The court also considered the employee’s argument that an error in the administrative judge’s opinion compelled reversal.

In July 2008, an administrative judge had denied the employee’s claim for permanent and total disability for an injury stemming from an industrial accident. At the hearing, both the employer and the employee presented expert medical testimony regarding MRI scans he had taken in 2004 and 2008. That decision was appealed, and the denial was affirmed by the reviewing board and the Appeals Court.

The employee subsequently initiated a second claim for workers’ compensation for the same injury, based on a theory that new doctors’ testimony constituted newly discovered evidence. Newly discovered evidence is that which could not have reasonably been discovered by a duly diligent search before trial and that has a material effect upon the outcome. Evidence that is newly discovered may be grounds for a new trial or hearing.

These doctors testified that they discovered a physical abnormality in the MRI scans that was previously overlooked. The doctors also identified a causal link between the accident and the abnormality. In reviewing the second claim, the administrative judge concluded that, since the MRI scans from 2004 and 2008 were known and available to the employee at the time of the first hearing, the defect that was identified could have been discovered through reasonable diligence. It was therefore not newly discovered evidence. Both the reviewing board and the Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed the administrative judge’s conclusion.

The employee also argued on appeal that the administrative judge’s written opinion was inadequate due to errors identifying incorrect page numbers to a deposition. Generally, a court reviews an administrative judge’s decision to determine whether its findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence and whether the law is correctly applied to those facts. In the current case, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts found that the administrative judge reviewed the records in detail, and there was sufficient evidence in support of its findings.

If you have been injured in a workplace accident or become ill due to your job, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The Massachusetts attorneys at Pulgini & Norton, LLP have more than 40 years of combined experience representing clients who are seeking workers’ compensation benefits. We offer dedicated assistance and legal guidance throughout the process. To schedule an initial consultation and discuss your case, call our office at (781) 843-2200, or online.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Appeals Court Rules Res Judicata Bars Workers’ Compensation Claim, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, published July 8, 2015

Appeals Court of Massachusetts Upholds Decision Based on Opinion Independent Medical Examiner, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, published March 4, 2015

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