The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently denied Home Depot’s attempt to recoup workers’ compensation payments. A company employee had been injured when he slipped on a ladder and injured his knee during an on-the-job accident.
The court held that the requested repayments were against fundamental fairness.
The Initial Workers’ Comp Case
During initial hearings, Home Depot was ordered to pay a set period of total disability benefits along with ongoing partial disability payments. Both parties appealed and the administrative law judge reduced the payment amount and duration of benefits after reviewing additional medical and salary information. However, the order was issued after the employee had received more than he was due. As a result, Home Depot filed an enforcement action to recoup the payments.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court ultimately determined that Home Depot had not properly pursued legal relief and the court denied the enforcement action. However, it further stated that even if Home Depot followed the proper channels the action did not provide enough information to determine if recoupment was proper.
Analysis of Fundamental Fairness
In order to properly determine whether recoupment is warranted, the court must analyze issues of fundamental fairness by weighing factors, such as the employer’s culpability and ability to pay, any negligence of the behalf of the employer and potential hardship faced by the employee. Recoupment is awarded at the discretion of the court, unless the employee is still receiving benefit payments.
As this matter showcases, properly navigating the legal requirements of a workers’ comp case is a daunting task. Having an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney in your corner can be an invaluable resource.
Source: Business Insurance, “Home Depot can’t recover overpaid workers comp benefits,” Roberto Ceniceros, Dec. 9, 2011