Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On Reconsideration: Court of Special Appeals reaffirms that Statute of Limitations Bars Workers Compensation Claim

I wrote here that the Court of Special Appeals denied a workers compensation claim because the employee waited too long to file it. I stated:

On January 2, 2002, Randolph Griggs was injured while working construction. On February 20, 2004, Mr. Griggs filed a workers compensation claim. Maryland Law requires employees to file such claims within two years of the accident. Because Mr. Griggs's claim was untimely, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the dismissal of his case. The Court did not buy the argument that Griggs's employer -- by promising to file a claim for him -- actually induced Mr. Griggs to wait more than two years to file with the Workers Compensation Commission.

On reconsideration, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed its decision and had this to say:

Our opinion was first filed on June 1, 2006. Griggs asks us to reconsider our decision, arguing that we erred by “shift[ing] the burden of producing undisputed facts” from appellees to him. In his view, it is “inconsistent to hold that a reasonable person could have relied on the letter to his or her detriment but refuse[] to draw the inference that [Griggs] did actually have such a reliance.” He argues that, because “there is no evidence refuting appellant’s actual reliance on the letter,” he cannot be required to produce evidence of actual reliance in order to survive the motion for summary judgment. We do not agree.

Estoppel under LE section 9-709(d)(1) requires proof of actual reliance. . . Although appellees had the summary judgment burden of establishing that Griggs did not rely on them to file his claim, they satisfied that burden by pointing to established law that an employer is not obligated to file a worker’s compensation claim on behalf of its employee. . . Griggs did not present any evidence that he construed the December 15, 2003 letter as an offer to file his claim and that he did not file the claim because of that offer. We therefore deny the motion for reconsideration.

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