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Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court has affirmed an award of workers’ compensation death benefits to the widow of a national charity’s financial advisor who died of a heart attack while exercising on a treadmill at his home. Utilizing the presumption found in 39-A M.R.S. § 327, which generally provides that where the employee has either been killed or is otherwise physically or mentally unable to testify, a rebuttable presumption arises that the employee sustained a personal injury arising out of and in the course of the employment. The employer contended the fatal attack was from causes unrelated to the employment: the deceased had suffered a heart attack in 1993 and he had experienced chest pains several weeks earlier while walking his dog. The widow offered evidence that the deceased, who had relocated to Maine from New York City and who managed a $2.5 billion investment portfolio for his employer, was under substantial pressure and stress and worked long hours. The court saw a key factor in the case—that at the time of the fatal cardiac attack, the deceased had been using an employer-provided Blackberry cell phone that contained work-related email communications. Given these factors, the lower court was not in error when it determined that the presumption of compensability had been triggered.
Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.
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See Estate of Sullwold v. The Salvation Army, 2015 ME 4, 2015 ME LEXIS 4 (Jan. 22, 2015) [2015 ME 4, 2015 ME LEXIS 4 (Jan. 22, 2015)]
See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 16.10, 130.06 [16.10, 130.06]
For a more detailed discussion of the case, see http://www.workcompwriter.com/maine-home-treadmill-fatality-found-compensable/
Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.
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