eNotes: Workers’ Compensation – February 2023 – Maryland
March 07, 2023
SIGNIFICANT CASE SUMMARIES
Maryland Case Summary
In Re: ST ANDREWS UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, ET AL
In the Appellate Court of Maryland (formerly the Court of Special Appeals)
Filed: January 25, 2023
The 5 year statute of limitations is an affirmative defense which must be plead before the Commission at the initial hearing on the merits of a re-opening or worsening of condition issue.
Claimant last received indemnity benefits from Employer/Insurer more than 5 years before Claimant filed Issues to modify/re-open her claim for worsening of condition. Employer and Insurer did not raise the defense of statute of limitations at the Modification hearing before the Commission. The Commission
Granted Claimant’s Motion to Modify and issued an Award of Worsening of Condition. Employer/Insurer filed a rehearing request which cited newly discovered evidence: the Insurer’s ledger of indemnity benefits paid to Claimant, which Employer maintained proved that the last indemnity benefit was received by Claimant more than 5 years prior to the date Claimant filed her Issues for modification/re-opening.
The Commission granted a hearing on Employer/Insurer’s Rehearing request. At that hearing the Commission denied the Employer/Insurer’s affirmative defense of statute of limitations finding that the Employer/Insurer had failed to raise the affirmative defense of statute of limitations at the Modification hearing, and therefore the Worsening of Condition Award would stand. Also, the Commission agreed with Claimant at the rehearing, that the payment log was not newly discovered evidence as it had been in the control and possession of the Insurer the entire time. Also, no evidence was offered by the Employer/Insurer as to why a diligent search for the evidence of dates of payment prior to the Modification hearing had not yielded the evidence in time to be argued by the Employer/Insurer at the Modification hearing.
The Employer/Insurer appealed to the Circuit Court and the Commission’s rulings were affirmed. The Employer/Insurer then sought an appeal before the Appellate Court of Maryland.
The Appellate Court of Maryland affirms that the Commission has jurisdiction to preside over a Modification/ Worsening of Condition hearing even if Claimant’s Motion to Modify is filed more than 5 years from the date of the last compensation received by Claimant. The Appellate Court of Maryland further holds that a statute of limitations defense is an affirmative defense which must be asserted by the Employer/Insurer at the time that Claimant first seeks additional compensation benefits. Lastly, in this unreported opinion the Appellate Court of Maryland reiterates the limits of ‘newly discovered evidence’ which will properly support a Request for Rehearing on those grounds.
If Employer/Insurer wishes to assert the defense of statute of limitations it must do so at the first hearing held on Claimant’s Petition to re-open/Issues for Worsening of Condition. Also, when filing a Rehearing Request based on newly discovered evidence a party must produce evidence that the evidence could not have been produced earlier and explain why a diligent search would not have yielded that evidence earlier.
Questions about this case can be directed to Ruth Jacobs, Esquire at 443-641-0573 or firstname.lastname@example.org.