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A woman denied workers’ compensation benefits after her husband died at his workplace in an incident not related to his job has won an appeal for a re-hearing by the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents. In a decision written by Administrative Law Judge Suzanne E.Z. Smith, the three-person review board decided the death of Raymond Burroughs, a state Water Resources Authority worker, was covered by state law Chapter 152, Section 7A. A provision within that section covers circumstances in which an employee is “found dead at the place of employment,” although the death may not be job-related. On that basis, the board reversed the denial of Margaret Burroughs’ claim for survivor’s benefits and burial costs. The hearing judge had concluded there was no medical evidence submitted by Burroughs to contradict a finding by Dr. Lawrence Baker, who performed a review of case records, that Raymond Burroughs died of a malignant arrhythmia unrelated to his job activities. But the employer “had not received Dr. Baker’s report at the time of the lay hearing, and the claimant therefore could not know whether she would need to rebut it with her own medical evidence,” wrote Smith in the decision. “On recommittal, the judge should permit the claimant to introduce her rebuttal medical evidence.” Burroughs’ attorney, John J. Morrissey of the Boston law firm of Quinn & Morris, said it could take about six months for a final decision to be reached. Another issue that the review board directed the hearing judge to consider in the second hearing is the employer’s cross-appeal, which Morrissey said challenges his client’s right to receive benefits because she was not living with her husband at the time of his death. If the benefits are granted, however, they could be awarded to other heirs, he said. The water authority’s attorney John J. Canniff, of the Boston law firm Peabody & Arnold, declined to comment on the case while it is pending.

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