Articles Posted in Employment Law

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In 2004, Appellant fell while working and strained her back. Appellant was awarded worker’s compensation benefits. In 2009, Appellant slipped and fell at work and injured her ankle. In 2010, Appellant sought temporary total disability and medical pay benefits from the Workers Compensation Division, which denied Appellant’s requests. After a contested case hearing, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upheld the Division’s denial of Appellant’s request for benefits, concluding Appellant did not meet her burden of proving that she suffered aggravation of a preexisting back condition as a result of a work related injury or that she suffered a second compensable injury. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the OAH did not err by failing to find a causal connection between the 2009 workplace incident and Appellant’s delayed back pain. View "Hirsch v. State ex rel. Wyo. Workers' Safety & Comp. Div." on Justia Law

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Robert Carson and his passenger, Hugh Sharp, were involved in a car accident in which Carson sustained multiple injuries and Sharp was killed. Carson filed a claim for worker’s compensation benefits. The Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division denied benefits, finding that Carson’s injuries did not arise out of and in the course of his employment with Metrocities Mortgage, LLC. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upheld the denial of Carson’s claim. Meanwhile, Sharp’s widow filed a wrongful death action against Carson and Metrocities. After a trial, a federal jury entered judgment against Metrocities under the theory of respondeat superior, concluding that Carson was acting within the course of scope of his employment when the accident occurred. On the basis of the federal judgment, Carson submitted a motion to reopen his claim with the OAH, contending that there was newly discovered evidence he was acting within the course of his employment at the time of the accident. The OAH eventually affirmed its earlier decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the OAH did not err when it failed to apply collateral estoppel to the issue of whether Carson was in the course and scope of his employment at the time of his injury.View "Carson v. State ex rel., Wyo. Workers' Safety & Comp. Div." on Justia Law

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In 2007, Appellant suffered a work-related injury to his right hip. In 2009, the Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division denied Appellant’s requests for testing and treatment of pain in his back on the grounds that the requests were unrelated to Appellant’s work injury. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) reversed and ordered that one additional test be performed to determine whether Appellant’s back problems were associated with his work injury. After the results of the test came back normal, the hearing examiner ordered that Appellant was not entitled to further benefits for his back. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) substantial evidence supported the OAH decision that Appellant did not satisfy his burden of proving additional testing and treatment of his back were related to his work injury; but (2) future treatment associated with the original hip injury could be submitted for administrative review.View "Delacastro v. State ex rel., Wyo. Workers' Safety & Comp. Div." on Justia Law

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Appellant received worker’s compensation benefits in 1996 and 2004 for work-related injuries to his back. In 2008 and 2011, Appellant underwent surgeries to treat a herniated disc in his low back. The Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division denied Appellant’s application for benefits to cover the two surgeries and any other expenses incurred after 2005. On appeal, Appellant contended that the herniated disc was a direct result of his 1996 and 2004 injuries and was therefore a second compensable injury. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upheld the Division’s denial of benefits. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the OAH’s decision upholding the denial of benefits was supported by substantial evidence and not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence.View "Bodily v. State ex rel. Wyo. Workers' Safety & Comp. Div." on Justia Law

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In 2005, Tara Kobielusz began working for Circle C Resources, which provides living assistance for persons with developmental disabilities. In 2010, Kobielusz began working for Circle C as a “host family provider.” That same year, Kobielusz fell and broke her ankle when entering Circle C’s office to pick up Kobielusz’s clients from their day habilitation program. The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division found Kobielusz had suffered a compensable injury. Circle C requested a contested case hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), arguing that Kobielusz was not an employee, but rather, an independent contractor. The OAH upheld the Division’s determination. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Kobielusz did not qualify as an “independent contractor” under the meaning of the Worker’s Compensation Act.View "In re Worker’s Comp. Claim of Kobielusz" on Justia Law

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Appellant first received benefits for work-related injuries he received to his knees in 1992. In 2009, Appellant requested preauthorization to perform total knee replacement on both knees. The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division denied the request and also denied payment of continued treatment of Appellant’s knees, concluding that the treatment and total knee replacements were not associated with the 1992 work injury. After a contested case hearing, the Medical Commission upheld the Division’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Medical Commission did not commit prejudicial error during the hearing by admitting into evidence, over Appellant’s objection, three exhibits; and (2) substantial evidence supported the Commission’s decision.View "Johnson v. State ex rel. Wyo. Workers' Safety & Comp. Div." on Justia Law

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Appellant was originally injured in 1975 while working for his employer. Appellant’s injuries resulted in the amputation of his right leg, below the knee. The Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division paid a number of benefits over the years. Years later, Appellant began receiving chiropractic treatment, including cold laser therapy, from Utah Spine and Disc Clinic in Murray Utah. Appellant sought reimbursement for travel to and from the clinic. In 2011, the Division denied Appellant’s request for reimbursement because (1) traditional types of chiropractic care, manipulation, and traction could have been obtained at a location in Wyoming closer to Appellant’s home; and (2) cold laser therapy was considered experimental and was therefore not a covered treatment for which the Division would pay travel expenses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Division did not err in its interpretation of the applicable Wyoming statutes, and the Division’s decision contained adequate findings of fact, which findings were supported by substantial record evidence.View "Birch v. State ex rel. Wyo. Workers' Safety & Comp. Div." on Justia Law

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In 1999, Appellant experienced a workplace injury to her back, for which she received benefits awarded by the Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division (“Division”). In 2008, while employed in Nebraska, Appellant suffered a second workplace injury. Appellant filed a worker’s compensation claim in Nebraska relating to her 2008 injury and subsequently settled that claim. In 2010, Appellant sought payment for prescription medication for headaches she was experiencing, claiming that the treatment was related to her 1999 injury. The Division denied benefits, concluding that the treatment and medications were unrelated to the original compensable 1999 injury. After a contested case hearing, the Office of Administrative Hearings upheld the Division’s denial of benefits. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that substantial evidence supported the hearing examiner’s finding that there was no causal connection between Appellant’s headaches and her 1999 workplace injury. View "Landwehr v. State ex rel. Workers’ Safety & Comp. Div. " on Justia Law