In Cleveland v. P. J. Keating Materials Corp., a Massachusetts administrative law judge (“ALJ”) ordered an employer to pay a worker nearly $645,000 in § 28 benefits related to the harm the employee sustained in a 2002 industrial accident. Under the statute, a workers’ compensation claim may be doubled if the employee’s harm results from an employer’s serious and willful misconduct. Following the award, the ALJ denied the employer’s request to stay payment or commit half of the funds to an escrow account pending an appeal. After that, the worker was provided with and apparently spent the full award.
Next, the Department of Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board reversed the ALJ’s § 28 award, and the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the Board’s decision. After further appellate review was denied, the employer sought to recover the money paid to the injured worker under the section. Eventually, another ALJ filed an award for recoupment in favor of the worker’s employer. The employee then appealed her decision to the Board.