Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of the University of Maine System on Plaintiff's claim of negligence based on an injury he sustained from an industrial kitchen mixer, holding that the University was immune from suit.The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the University, concluding that the University was immune under the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTCA), 14 Me. Rev. Stat. 8104-A(1)(G), because the alleged negligent act did not fall within the MTCA's exception for negligence set forth in Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8104-A(1)(G). The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the mixer did not fall within the "[o]ther machinery or equipment" exception to immunity under the MTCA. View "Badler v. University of Maine System" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting the motion of Defendant, Plaintiff's former employer, to dismiss Plaintiff's disability discrimination and failure to accommodate claims as time-barred under the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA), Me. Rev. Stat. 5, 4551-4634, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff brought this complaint alleging two counts under the Americans with Disabilities Act and two counts under the MHRA. A federal district court dismissed the first two counts and remanded the MHRA counts to the superior court. On remand, the superior court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss the remaining counts. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the action was not commenced within two years after the act of unlawful discrimination complained of, and therefore, the superior court properly determined that Plaintiff's disability discrimination claim was not commenced within he two-year statute of limitations under the MHRA. View "Berounsky v. Oceanside Rubbish, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered in the superior court in favor of Defendant and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging unlawful discrimination, retaliation, and discharge, holding that there was no error.In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant, her former employer, violated the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 26 831-840; the Maine Human Rights Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 5, 4551-4634; and Me. Rev. Stat. 26 570. The court granted Defendant summary judgment on all counts. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) summary judgment in favor of Defendant was appropriate; and (2) the court did not err in denying Plaintiff's motion for relief pursuant to Me. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4) because Defendant's electronic service did not violate Plaintiff's right to due process. View "Handlin v. Broadreach Public Relations, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the appellate division of the Workers' Compensation Board affirming the decision of an administrative law judge (ALJ) granting Plaintiff's petition for award of compensation, holding that an employee is not required to give notice of his occupational disease claim to his former employer's insurer when the employer no longer exists.Nearly twenty years after retiring from his employment Plaintiff underwent surgery for lung cancer and was later diagnosed with asbestosis. Plaintiff filed five petitions for award of compensation, each alleging a different date of injury and naming and different employer and insurer pairing. The ALJ (1) found that Plaintiff's last injurious exposure to asbestos occurred when he was working for Auburn Sheet Metal, which was insured by Maine Employers' Mutual Insurance Company (MEMIC) but no longer existed, and (2) granted Plaintiff's petition for an award of compensation. The appellate division concluded that Plaintiff was not required to provide notice to MEMIC. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate division did not err in concluding that the workers' compensation statute does not impose on an injured employee whose employer no longer exists the duty to give notice to the insurer. View "Desgrosseilliers v. Auburn Sheet Metal" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment against the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce on its claims that voter-initiated legislation establishing an emergency minimum wage in Portland violated the Portland City Code and the Maine Constitution, holding that there was no error.After voters approved the initiative at issue, Plaintiffs, employers with employees in Portland, filed a complaint asserting that the initiative was invalid and that, if it was valid, it would not take effect until January 1, 2022. Intervenors filed a cross-claim seeking declaratory relief establishing the effective date of the emergency provision as December 6, 2020. The superior court concluded that the emergency provision was validly enacted pursuant to the Maine Constitution and the Portland City Code and dismissed Intervenors' cross-claims. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the initiative was validly enacted; and (2) the emergency provision was effective as of January 1, 2022. View "Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce v. City of Portland" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the decision of the Appellate Division of the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) affirming the decision of the WCB ALJ denying Appellant's petition for review of incapacity benefits paid by Hydraulic Hose & Assemblies, LLC, through its insurer, The Hanover Insurance Group, because the statute of had expired, holding that the claim was timely.Appellant filed a petition for review of incapacity, claiming that he was entitled to total incapacity benefits. The ALJ denied the petition, concluding that the six-year statutory limitation period had expired and that Appellant's receipt of Social Security benefits did not toll the statute of limitations. On appeal, Appellant argued that the receipt of his Social Security benefits under the circumstances tolled the statute of limitations. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed, holding (1) offsetting Social Security old-age insurance benefits must be treated as primary payments of workers' compensation; and (2) the "date of the most recent payment" under Me. Rev. Stat. 39-A, 306 is the date of most recent payment of offsetting Social Security old-age insurance benefits. View "Charest v. Hydraulic Hose & Assemblies, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the superior court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Twin Rivers Paper Company, LLC on Plaintiff's claim brought under the Maine Whistleblowers' Protection Act (WPA), Me. Rev. Stat. 26, 831-340, holding that the superior court did not err.In granting summary judgment for Twin Rivers, the superior court concluded that Plaintiff's claim was preempted by the combined effect of section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. 185(a), and section 837 of the WPA. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's claim was preempted by the operation of LMRA section 301 in combination with WPA section 837. View "Nadeau v. Twin Rivers Paper Company, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the opinion of the Workers' Compensation Board Appellate Division agreeing with the conclusion of the administrative law judge (ALJ) that Darla Potter, an aquaculture worker, was not a "seaman" within the meaning of the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. 30104, holding that the Appellate Division did not err.The Appellate Division affirmed the decree of the ALJ granting Potter's petitions for award of compensation for injuries sustained in the course of her employment with Cooke Aquaculture USA, Inc. At issue on appeal was whether Potter's claims fell within the jurisdiction of federal admiralty law or state workers' compensation law. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Potter was not a seaman within the purview of the Jones Act. View "Potter v. Great Falls Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the Workers' Compensation Board Appellate Division vacating the judgment of the administrative law judge (ALJ) denying Lorraine Somers's petition to have her benefits reinstated, holding that the Appellate Division did not err.The Board entered a decree permitting S.D. Warrant Company and its insurer (collectively, S.D. Warren) to discontinue paying Somers partial incapacity benefits when those payments had reached the 520-week statutory limit. Somers filed a petition to have her benefits reinstated, arguing that S.D. Warren failed to comply with Me. W.C.B. Rule, ch. 2, 5(1) (the former Rule) by not providing her with notice that she could be eligible for an extension of weekly benefits. An ALJ denied the petition. The Appellate Division vacated that decision. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that S.D. Warren was required to give Somers notice pursuant to the former Rule before terminating her benefits. View "Somers v. S.D. Warren Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of Riverview Psychiatric Center on Plaintiff's complaint alleging a violation of the Whistleblowers' Protection Act, 26 Me. Rev. Stat. 831-840, holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment.After Plaintiff was terminated from his employment at Riverview he filed the instant action. The superior court granted Riverview's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact regarding whether Plaintiff was entitled to whistleblower protection based on complaints he made about Riverview's staffing policies, his supervisor's alleged mistreatment of another employee, and potential violation of patient confidentiality pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. View "Pushard v. Riverview Psychiatric Center" on Justia Law