Michael Lynch, Employee, Oak Roofing and Sheet Metal Works Co., Inc., Employer, Continental Casualty Insurance Co., Insurer

25 Mass. Workers’ Comp. Rep. 249 (2011)

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Michael Lynch, Employee, Oak Roofing and Sheet Metal Works Co., Inc., Employer, Continental Casualty Insurance Co., Insurer

Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents
25 Mass. Workers’ Comp. Rep. 249 (2011)

Facts

Michael Lynch (plaintiff) worked for Oak Roofing and Sheet Metal Works Company (Oak) (defendant). In September 2007, Oak assigned Lynch to a roofing job at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Matthew Macomber was the on-site Oak employee responsible for setting work schedules and assigning tasks at the MGH job site. Although Oak had not officially designated Macomber as the project foreman and did not pay Macomber at a foreman’s rate, Macomber did have a company cell phone that enabled him to call in employees’ hours for payroll purposes and to otherwise contact Oak as necessary. Macomber had assumed his duties at the MGH job site months earlier after the previous foreman left. When Macomber and Lynch were working together on the roof at the MGH job site, Macomber became displeased with Lynch’s work, cursed at Lynch, and eventually charged at Lynch and bumped Lynch into a steel beam. Lynch suffered injuries and sought workers’-compensation benefits. Oak’s insurer, Continental Casualty Insurance Company (Continental), refused to pay Lynch’s claim. Lynch filed a formal claim for benefits with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and sought enhanced benefits under a statute providing that an employee’s workers’-compensation payments would be doubled if the employee’s injury resulted from the serious and willful misconduct of the employer or a person “regularly entrusted with and exercising the powers of superintendence.” Continental asserted, among other things, that Macomber was not Lynch’s formal supervisor, which meant that Lynch’s injuries from Macomber’s assault were not the result of the employer’s serious and willful misconduct. An administrative-law judge (ALJ) disagreed with Continental’s position and found that Macomber was a de facto supervisor at the MGH job site because Oak had regularly entrusted Macomber with superintendence powers. The ALJ further found that Macomber had willfully assaulted Lynch despite knowing of the inherent danger of the assault and the likelihood that Lynch could be seriously injured. Continental appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Costigan, J.)

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