Good Court Decision But Horrific Tale

As 2008 comes to an end, I’d like to share with you one of the year’s most nightmarish judicial opinions, even though the court’s decision held for the underdog.

It’s the story of Jesse Maxwell, a worker for a Massachusetts paper company who in 2000 filed for workers’ compensation after injuring his neck, shoulder, and back while lifting a 100 pound object.  The workers’ compensation insurer denied his claim despite medical records showing a torn rotator cuff and verification from his employer’s human resources office that he was “totally or partially incapacitated.”  Maxwell, without income or other sources of support, became homeless, and his life spiraled into a personal and legal hell, triggered by the ongoing attempt by this insurer to discredit him and deny him workers’ comp benefits.

The primary defendant in this case?  AIG.  Yep, the same AIG that was among the first in the “conga line of bailout beneficiaries” (thank you, Maureen Dowd, for that line) when the current financial debacle began to reveal itself.

Maxwell’s lawsuit is grounded in allegations of intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution.  The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed a lower court’s denial of AIG’s motion to dismiss, meaning that his legal claims are still alive.

The full story of what happened to this man is difficult to fathom.  If you can devote 30 minutes or so to reading the court’s decision in Jesse Maxwell vs. AIG Domestic Claims, Inc., the blow-by-blow story will be worth your while (three separate links are provided to ensure access to the decision):

http://masscases.com/cases/app/72/72massappct685.html

http://www.socialaw.com/slip.htm?cid=18515&sid=119

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=ma&vol=appslip/18515&invol=1

This case also is a prime example of the protracted nature of litigation.  The Massachusetts Appeals Court issued a good decision.  But consider that an injury in 2000 led to all of this.  What’s left of someone’s psyche after such an ordeal, even if they “win”?

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