Case of Gonzalez

668 N.E.2d 373, 41 Mass. App. Ct. 39 (1996)

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Case of Gonzalez

Massachusetts Appeals Court
668 N.E.2d 373, 41 Mass. App. Ct. 39 (1996)

Facts

In January 1989, Victor Gonzalez (plaintiff) was employed by LFE Corporation (defendant) as a shipper and receiver. In May 1990, Gonzalez was terminated due to excessive absences. On July 20, 1990, Gonzalez filed for temporary total-disability benefits for March 6, 1990, continuing, and for medical expenses. LFE’s insurer, National Union (defendant), denied the claim. In April 1991, a conference was held, and the claim was denied. Gonzalez appealed and requested a de novo hearing. The administrative-law judge (ALJ) found that Gonzalez sustained an industrial injury to his shoulder on or about March 5, 1990, but failed to provide evidence to establish that his period of absence was related to the injury. The ALJ found Gonzalez’s claim was defective because it covered the period between March 14 and May 25, when Gonzalez was working, and it covered a period during which Gonzalez was collecting unemployment compensation. Because Gonzalez did not lose benefits as a result of the accident, the ALJ did not award compensation. Because Gonzalez did not produce unpaid medical bills, the ALJ did not award medical expenses. The ALJ ordered that Gonzalez’s rights be reserved. Gonzalez appealed to the reviewing board, arguing solely that he was entitled to payment of attorney’s fees. The board found that Gonzalez was not entitled to the fees because he did not prevail at the hearing—he did not receive an award, and a discontinuance of benefits was not prevented. Gonzalez appealed, arguing that he was entitled to the fees because the ALJ made a finding that he sustained an industrial injury, so he did prevail at the hearing.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

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