Heard: September 8, 2016.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on
July 14, 2014.
case was heard by Mitchell H. Kaplan, J., on motions
for summary judgment.
Supreme Judicial Court granted applications for direct
Gregory P. Deschenes (Kurt Mullen with him) for the
Gallagher (Gordon Prescott with him) for the defendant.
Present: Gants, C.J., Botsford, Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy,
& Budd, JJ.
Laws c. 175D, § 17 (§ 17), authorizes the
Massachusetts Insurers Insolvency Fund (Fund) to recover from
"high net worth insureds" certain amounts paid by
the Fund "on behalf of" such insureds. G. L. c.
175D, § 17 (3). The Fund brought this action in the
Superior Court pursuant to § 17, seeking to recover from
the defendant Berkshire Bank (Berkshire) an entity that meets
the definition of "high net worth insured, "
workers' compensation benefits it has paid to a Berkshire
employee. Ruling on cross motions for summary judgment, a
judge of that court interpreted § 17 (3) to preclude the
Fund's recovery. We conclude that the Fund is authorized
to recoup the amounts in question because they were paid by
the Fund "on behalf of" Berkshire within the
meaning of § 17 (3). Accordingly, we reverse the
judgment of the Superior Court.
parties agree that there are no material facts in dispute.
The memorandum of decision of the Superior Court judge sets
out the background facts succinctly, which we quote here:
"In May 2003, [Donna] Poli, an assistant branch manager
for Woronoco Savings Bank (Woronoco), injured her back while
lifting coin-filled bags. Woronoco was then the named insured
under a workers' compensation/employer's liability
policy issued by Centennial [Insurance Company]. Woronoco
notified Centennial of the injury and Centennial began paying
Poli weekly workers' compensation benefits pursuant to G.
L. c. 152, § 34 [providing temporary total incapacity
benefits for up to three years]. On June 16, 2005, Woronoco
merged with and into Berkshire.
"In August 2006, Poli exhausted her entitlement to
benefits under G. L. c. 152, § 34, and Centennial
voluntarily commenced payments under G. L. c. 152, § 35
[providing for partial incapacity benefits]. Four years
later, in August 2010, Poli exhausted her entitlement to
benefits under G. L. c. 152, § 35, and Centennial ceased
making any payments. In response, Poli sought permanent and
total disability compensation under G. L. c. 152, § 34A.
[I]n February 2011, the Department of Industrial Accidents
(DIA) denied her claim after a conference. Poli appealed.
"In April 2011, the New York Supreme Court placed
Centennial, which is domiciled in New York, into liquidation.
Pursuant to the provisions of G. L. c. 175D, the Fund assumed
administration of Poli's claim. On September 7, 2011, the
Fund entered into a lump sum agreement with Poli, under G. L.
c. 152, § 48, pursuant to which it agreed to pay her
$85, 000 and to pay all future medical expenses arising from
the injury. The DIA approved the ...