Bryant v. Masters Machine Co.

444 A.2d 329 (1982)

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Bryant v. Masters Machine Co.

Maine Supreme Judicial Court
444 A.2d 329 (1982)

Facts

Weston Bryant (plaintiff) was employed by Masters Machine Co. (Masters) (defendant) as a machinist. On February 28, 1978, while operating a drill press, an employee accidentally hit the stool Bryant was sitting on. Bryant fell off the stool and was unable to break his fall due to a preexisting condition. Bryant was injured and went to the hospital the following day because of severe pain. Medical treatment was unsuccessful. However, Bryant returned to work three days after he was severely injured. As a result of the pain, Bryant lost a week of work in November 1978. On August 14, 1979, the pain Bryant was still experiencing forced him to leave his employment with Masters. Bryant filed for workers’ compensation. At the request of the insurance carrier, Travelers Insurance Co. (defendant), Bryant was examined by a rheumatologist, Dr. George Morton, who was deposed before the commissioner. Dr. Morton diagnosed Bryant with spina bifida, rheumatoid arthritis, spondylolisthesis, and osteoarthritis. Based on a medical report by Dr. Thomas Martin, an orthopedist, Bryant suffered from noncongenital degenerative-disc disease. The commissioner found Bryant totally disabled. The commissioner found that Bryant’s medical conditions were asymptomatic and became symptomatic as a result of the fall. Based on a prior case’s holding that the creation of pain and swelling was insufficient for a work-related incident to be a compensable injury, the commissioner determined that Bryant had failed to meet his burden and denied Bryant’s request for benefits. Bryant obtained a pro forma decree, and the superior court affirmed the commissioner’s denial. Bryant appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Carter, J.)

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