Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Medical Commission approving John Lysne’s worker’s compensation claim seeking coverage for knee replacement surgery, holding that the Commission’s finding that Lysne’s work injury caused his need for knee replacement surgery was supported by substantial evidence and not contrary to law. On appeal, the Workers’ Compensation Division argued that Lysne did not provide adequate proof that his need for knee replacement surgery was causally related to his work injury. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that there was substantial evidence to support the Commission’s finding of causation and the Commission’s rejection of contrary medical evidence that the workplace injury was not causally related to Lysne’s requested surgery. View "State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division v. Lysne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the Medical Commission Hearing Panel’s decision the Workers’ Compensation Division’s denial of permanent total disability benefits for a back injury Pete Hart sustained at work, holding (1) the district court appropriately remanded the claim to the Medical Commission, rather than simply reversing and awarding benefits, for further findings of fact and conclusions of law; and (2) the Medical Commission’s conclusion that Hart failed to demonstrate his disability was caused by his work-related back injury was supported by substantial evidence in the record. View "Hart v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Medical Commission upholding the decision of the Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division (the Division) denying benefits for Appellant’s back surgery, holding that substantial evidence supported the Medical Commission’s (the Commission) determination that the procedure was “alternative medicine” for which benefits were properly denied. Appellant underwent artificial disc replacement to treat her work-related back injury. The Division denied compensation for the jury, finding that it was not reasonable and necessary medical treatment because the artificial disc and surgical procedure had not been approved by the FDA and because Appellant had not presented sufficient objective medical support for their use. The Commission affirmed the Division’s denial of compensation, determining that the procedure was an “off-label” use of medical services and “alternative medicine” for which Appellant did not prove adequate support. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission erred in determining that implantation of non-FDA-approved artificial discs at adjacent levels of the lumbar spine was an “off-label” use of medical services; but (2) substantial evidence supported the Commission’s determination that Appellant failed to provide sufficient documentation of the procedure’s safety and effectiveness, rending it “alternative medicine” for which benefits were properly denied. View "Harborth v. State, ex rel., Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered a question certified to it by the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming concerning the definition of “sell” or “sale” set forth in Wyo. Stat. Ann. 12-1-101(a)(xvi), holding that that the statutory definition of “sell” or “sale” applied to the conduct of Traveling Vineyard and its Independent Wine Guides (collectively, Appellants). Michaela Robinson was a Wyoming resident and an independent contractor for Traveling Vineyard, a Massachusetts LLC with three federal and state licensed, bonded wineries. Robinson was known as an Independent Wine Guide, who earned compensation for promoting products at in-home wine tastings. The Wyoming Department of Revenue, Liquor Division asserted that some aspects of Traveling Vineyard’s business model and some of its Independent Wine Guides’ activities were in conflict with Wyoming State Statutes, Title 12, Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws and Wyoming Liquor Division rules and policies. In response, Appellants sought a declaration that the Division improperly interpreted the definition of “sale” in section 12-1-101(a)(xvi) and applied it to them. The federal court certified to the Supreme Court a question of state law. The Supreme Court answered that the statutory definition of “sell” or “sale” applied to the conduct of Appellants. View "Phoenix Vintners, LLC v. Noble" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) concluding that the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division (Division) had properly terminated Appellant’s temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. The Division terminated Appellant’s TTD benefits after determining that Appellant had reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and suffered an ascertainable loss. After a contested case hearing, the OAH concluded that the Division had properly ceased paying TTD benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the OAH properly applied the relevant legal principals in reviewing the Division’s decision to terminate Appellant’s TTD benefits, and the OAH’s decision was supported by substantial evidence. View "Coggins v. State ex rel., Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-605 does not bar a claimant from receiving temporary total disability benefits for a second compensable injury when he has not filed a claim for benefits on his original injury within four years. Six years after receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a workplace injury to his right knee, James Hall underwent another knee surgery that was approved by the Workers’ Compensation Division. The Division denied Hall’s application for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, concluding that, under section 27-14-605(b), Hall was not entitled to TTD benefits related to the surgery after not seeking benefits on his original injury for over four years. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), however, concluded that section 27-14-605 did not govern Hall’s claim because Hall suffered a second compensable injury that section 27-14-605 did not control and that Hall was entitled to TTD benefits as a matter of law. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Hall suffered a second compensable injury and was therefore entitled to TTD benefits pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-404(a). View "In re Worker's Compensation Claim of James A. Hall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff in this declaratory judgment action against the Board of County Commissioners of Teton County challenging the Teton County Land Development Regulation prohibiting fractional ownership of campgrounds, holding that the regulation was unenforceable because it exceeded the County’s zoning authority. Specifically, the Court agreed with Plaintiff that the regulation prohibiting fractional ownership did not regulate the use of the land, only its ownership, and was, therefore, beyond the County’s zoning authority and unenforceable. View "Board of County Commissioners of Teton County, Wyoming v. Mackay Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the decision in favor of Petitioner’s former attorneys (Respondent-law firm) by a panel of the Wyoming State Bar Committee for Resolution of Fee Disputes. The Court held (1) the panel’s conclusion that it was neither unreasonable nor abusive for Respondent to bill its time using minimum increments of fifteen minutes was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) substantial evidence supported the panel’s conclusion that Respondent exercised billing judgment and did not excessively bill Petitioner for substantive and necessary communication between firm members and employees about Petitioner's case. View "Manigault v. Daly & Sorenson, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the decision in favor of Petitioner’s former attorneys (Respondent-law firm) by a panel of the Wyoming State Bar Committee for Resolution of Fee Disputes. The Court held (1) the panel’s conclusion that it was neither unreasonable nor abusive for Respondent to bill its time using minimum increments of fifteen minutes was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) substantial evidence supported the panel’s conclusion that Respondent exercised billing judgment and did not excessively bill Petitioner for substantive and necessary communication between firm members and employees about Petitioner's case. View "Manigault v. Daly & Sorenson, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court ruling that the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) erred in upholding the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division’s denial of benefits to Richard Williams. Williams suffered a head injury while working as a well operator. Williams argued that a flash fire started him and caused him to fall backward and strike his head. The Division denied benefits, determining that Williams’ injury did not arise out of an in the course of his employment. The OAH upheld the denial of benefits, finding that Williams and his version of events lacked credibility. The district court reversed, concluding that the OAH decision was contrary to overwhelming medical evidence that Williams injured his head while engaged in work-related activities. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Williams offered evidence sufficient to raise a presumption that he suffered a head injury that arose out of his employment and that the Division failed to rebut that presumption. View "State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division v. Williams" on Justia Law