Berthiaume's Case

102 N.E.2d 412, 328 Mass. 186 (1951)

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Berthiaume’s Case

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
102 N.E.2d 412, 328 Mass. 186 (1951)

Facts

Israel Berthiaume (plaintiff) was struck in the head with a wire coil during his employment. Berthiaume informed his employer of the accident and was treated by the employer’s physician. Berthiaume’s head injury caused headaches, dizzy spells, and blackouts. Berthiaume stopped working for a few weeks, came back to work, and then quit. Dr. Carmody, a neurological surgeon, operated on Berthiaume and diagnosed him with traumatic encephalopathy with cortical atrophy. Berthiaume was treated multiple times at a hospital in 1947. Berthiaume filed a claim for workers’ compensation on September 8, 1948. The claim alleged that the injury occurred in June 1941. A member of the Industrial Accident Board (the board) found that Berthiaume suffered a chest and ankle injury, which had no connection with his 1947 hospitalizations. The member dismissed the claim, finding that the insurer (defendant) was prejudiced by the lack of notice of the head injury and the delay in filing the claim. The reviewing board reversed the decision, finding a causal connection between the brain injury and the injury sustained when Berthiaume was hit in the head with a coil. Based on the testimony of the crane operator, who was the only witness to the accident, the board found that Berthiaume had suffered the injury in July 1942 (rather than June 1941), and that he had given notice of the injury after he learned that his condition was related to the 1942 injury. The board found that the insurer was not prejudiced, and that Berthiaume was entitled to compensation for total incapacity. The superior court entered a decree dismissing the claim. Berthiaume appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ronan, J.)

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