Depression Caused by Failure of Business Not Compensable Work-related Injury

The owner/manager of a steel manufacturing company was diagnosed with hypertension and major depression following the failure of the business. A fire had destroyed the manufacturing plant. The final cost of rebuilding the facility far exceeded budget projections, and the business floundered. The business was closed and the owner/manager filed for personal and business bankruptcy. Subsequently the owner filed a workers' compensation claim citing mental stress and severe depression.


The court held that the claimant's major depression, which was caused by the stress of the failure of the claimant's business, did not constitute a compensable injury as the possibility of a business failure was a normal condition of employment. The business failure constituted a “similar action” within the New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Law exclusion for “mental injury” caused by “any disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, layoff, demotion, termination, or any similar action, taken in good faith by an employer” and was, therefore, not compensable. See: In re Letellier, 2011 WL 6287974 (N.H. Dec 15, 2011) (not designated for publication).