Perhaps the most important worker’s compensation psychiatric claim in the last 20 years was tried by Paul S. Rosen, an attorney at Zamler, Mellen and Shiffman with over 30 years of experience.
Plaintiff was an employee of a major automobile manufacturer who had been promoted to the art department from the assembly line. Plaintiff was asked by his foreman to paint the foreman’s boat while on company time. Plaintiff refused and was demoted back to the assembly line. Plaintiff suffered an emotional breakdown due to the demotion. The company claimed plaintiff was demoted due to lay off and financial reasons.
Plaintiff’s claim was tried in 1997. Benefits were denied and Zamler, Mellen and Shiffman appealed the decision believing that an injustice was done. Through the efforts of Zamler, Mellen and Shiffman, the Michigan Court of Appeals sent the case back to the magistrate for a new decision. The company again appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals, stating the plaintiff could be entitled to benefits if there was a reasonable basis for his perception that he was demoted because of the refusal. The court further stated that there must be an actual event and that whether or not plaintiff correctly or incorrectly perceived the event is irrelevant as long as a reasonable person would perceive the event in the same way and the event caused plaintiff’s disability.
Over the past 13 years, plaintiff’s case has been to the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court twice, with many additional hearings at the magistrate level and the Worker’s Compensation Appellant Commission.
The last hearing was in April 2009 to determine whether or not plaintiff retained the wage capacity to earn wages he earned at the company. The plaintiff won and the company has appealed this decision to the Worker’s Compensation Appellant Commission. A decision should be rendered in the very near future.
Should plaintiff prevail and there is good reason to believe he will, plaintiff will be awarded a sum in the high six figures with continuing benefits.
Plaintiff’s success though the appeal process is due to the efforts of Zamler, Mellen and Shiffman. Zamler, Mellen and Shiffman, over the last 13 years, did not once stop believing and fighting for plaintiff. Plaintiff suffered a work injury and is now very close to being compensation for the injury.