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By the provisions of 1973 Me. Laws ch. 389, the criterion for coverage of injuries under the Maine Workmen's Compensation Act was modified effective October 3, 1973. The new standard for entitlement to compensation under Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 39, § 51 is to be "personal injury" and not the previously prescribed "personal injury by accident."
Appellee employee, Henry Ross, had worked for 25 years as a roll handler at the Oxford Paper Company mill. He was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome after working for many years in the employer's paper mill. Appellee filed a petition for Award of Compensation with the Industrial Accident Commission. The Commissioner issued a decree awarding appellee full compensation from March 17, 1974. Finding as a matter of law that the disability had arisen after October 3, 1973, the Commissioner applied the Workmen's Compensation Law in effect after that date in which only personal injury and not injury "by accident" was required, Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 39, § 51. Appellants, employer and its insurer, contended that a pre-amendment statutory requirement for "personal injury by accident" applied, that the employee did not suffer an injury arising out of his employment, and that the claim was barred by limitations for failure to give notice.
Did the Commissioner err in applying Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 39, § 51 in conferring workers’ compensation benefits to the employee?
The court denied the appeal. The court noted that the employee's last day of employment was the date on which he was finally prevented from working because the disability fully manifested itself on that day. The court concluded that the commissioner was correct in applying the statute as amended. The court concluded that the employee suffered a "personal injury" as specified by Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 39, § 51 and that the commissioner was warranted in determining that there was a causal relationship between the employment and the injury. The court concluded that the employee satisfied all of the requirements for coverage under § 51. The court held that knowledge of the injury by the employer's company doctor was imputed to the employer.