Justia Wyoming Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upholding the denial of Appellant's application to the Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, holding that the OAH's decision was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. After Appellant injured his back the Division awarded him temporary benefits. When several years had passed without relief from his pain, Appellant appleid for PPD benefits. The Division denied Appellant's application. The OAH upheld the Division's denial of PPD benefits, concluding that Appellant failed to prove his work injury was the cause of his inability to return to employment and failed to prove that he timely filed his PPD application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the OAH correctly calculated the limitations period under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-405(h)(ii); and (2) there was substantial evidence to support the OAH's conclusion that Appellant failed to prove that his injury was the cause of his inability to return to work. View "Camacho v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court affirming the order of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upholding the Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division's (Division) final determination regarding compensability, holding that the OAH erred in its determination that equitable estoppel did not bar the Division from asserting the statute of limitations as a defense. The OAH affirmed the final determination of the Division denying benefits to Appellant on the grounds that Appellant did not file a claim for benefits within the one-year statute of limitations set forth in Wyo. Stat. 27-14-503(a). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Division was estopped from asserting the statute of limitations as a defense, and therefore, the OAH's conclusion that section 27-14-503(a) barred Appellant's claim was not in accordance with law. View "Sweetalla v. State ex rev. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) denying Appellant's request for permanent partial disability benefits, holding that the OAH's decision was supported by substantial evidence and was not arbitrary or capricious. In denying Appellant permanent partial disability benefits the hearing examiner determined that Appellant had not established that because of his injury he was unable to return to employment at a wage of at least ninety-five percent of his monthly earnings at the time of his injury. On appeal, Appellant claimed that the hearing examiner should have found dispositive the undisputed fact that Appellant had applied for over fifty positions and still had no job. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing examiner's decision was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence, and the district court did not err in affirming the hearing examiner's conclusion. View "Bollinger v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Employer on Employee's retaliatory discharge claim, holding that summary judgment was proper under the circumstances of this case. In support of Employee's claim for retaliatory constructive discharge Employee alleged that Employer retaliated against him for his submitting a report on elder abuse of a resident that was required by statute. The district court granted Employer's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence Employee submitted in response to Employer's motion for summary judgment failed to create a disputed issue of material fact that would make his prima facie claim a triable issue. View "Kaufman v. Rural Health Development, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court entering partial summary judgment against Rex Rammell on all his claims against his former employer, Mountainaire Animal Clinic, P.C., its president, and its office manager except Rammell's breach of express contract claim and then dismissing that claim as a sanction for willful obstruction of discovery and fraud upon the court, holding that the district court did not err. Specifically, the Court held (1) deficiencies in Rammell's certification did not mandate dismissal of his appeal; (2) defects in Rammell's notice of appeal did not mandate dismissal; (3) the district court did not err in entering summary judgment against Rammell on his tortious interference claim; and (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Rammell's breach of express contract claim as a sanction for discovery violations. View "Rammell v. Mountainaire Animal Clinic, P.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Unemployment Insurance Commission denying Appellant’s application for unemployment insurance after the City of Gillette terminated her employment, holding that there was substantial evidence to support the Commission’s determination that Appellant engaged in misconduct with her work and that the City did not violate Appellant’s First Amendment rights when it terminated her employment. The Commission denied Appellant’s claim for benefits after concluding that the City discharged Appellant because she violated several employer policies when she provided certain work-related confidential information to persons authorized to see that information. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission had substantial evidence to conclude that Appellant committed misconduct connected with her work; and (2) the City did not infringe on Appellant’s First Amendment rights when it dismissed her for constitutionally protected speech. View "Mahoney v. City of Gillette" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court reversing the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) reversing the decision of the Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS) terminating Appellant’s position as a fraud investigator, holding that the OAH’s determination that DFS lacked good cause for dismissing Appellant was supported by substantial evidence and complied with the law. DFS dismissed Appellant when it discovered that she signed daycare logs for her grandchildren that resulted in overpayment of DFS child care benefits to daycare providers in the amount of $196.95. The OAH reversed, concluding that DFS lacked good cause for dismissing Appellant. The district court reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s judgment and reinstated the OAH’s decision, holding the OAH’s determination was supported by substantial evidence and in accordance with the law. View "Lietz v. State ex rel. Department of Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) granting summary judgment to Air Methods/Rocky Mountain Holdings, LLC, EagleMed, LLC, and Med-Trans Corp. (collectively, Claimants) and ruling that the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division (Division) was required to pay the full amount billed by Claimants, holding that Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-401(e), as severed, required the Division to pay Claimants the full amount of their billing for air ambulance services. Claimants, who operated air ambulance services in Wyoming, filed separate claims with the Division for services they provided to injured workers. The Division paid only the amounts permitted by its fee schedule, which were significantly less than the amounts billed. Claimants appealed. The OAH ruled (1) in accordance with a federal ruling that the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA) preempted the Division’s air ambulance fee schedule, the Division was required to pay the full amount billed by Claimants; and (2) Air Methods was not entitled to pre- or post-judgment interest on its claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the OAH correctly ruled (1) section 27-14-401(e) was severable and, as severed, required Claimants to be paid the full amount they sought; and (2) it lacked statutory authority to award interest on the contested claims. View "Air Methods/Rocky Mountain Holdings, LLC v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services" on Justia 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