Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summary 2008 WY 89

Summary of Decision issued July 30, 2008

Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Case Name: In re Fisher

Citation: 2008 WY 89

Docket Number: S-07-0220

Appeal from the District Court of Big Horn County, the Honorable Gary P. Hartman, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Larry B. Jones of Simpson, Kepler & Edwards, LLC, the Cody, Wyoming Division of Burg, Simpson, Eldredge, Hersh & Jardine.

Representing Appellee: Bruce A. Salzburg, Attorney General; John W. Renneisen, Deputy Attorney General; and Kristi M. Radosevich, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

Facts/Discussion: Mrs. Fisher sought worker’s compensation death benefits as the surviving spouse of her husband, David Fisher. Mr. Fisher was seriously injured at work in 1993 which rendered him a paraplegic. In 2005 he died as a result of complications from smoke inhalation from a fire in their home.
The Court previously stated in Bruhn that in order for death to be compensable, the initial injury must be the direct cause of the employee’s death. The Court concluded that the reasoning employed in Bruhn was readily distinguishable from the circumstances of the instant case and they declined to apply it here where there was a direct link between Fisher’s work-related injury and his death.
The case turns on the facts available to the Court from the record on appeal. The evidence in the record was unequivocal that Fisher died because his paraplegia severely reduced his ability to cough and to clear his bronchi of mucus. That evidence was uncontradicted. The Court applied the facts in light of the plain language of the governing statute and concluded that the only sustainable answer that could be reached based on the record on appeal was that Fisher died as a result of his work-related injury.

Holding: The order of the district court affirming the hearing officer’s denial of benefits was reversed and the matter remanded to the district court with directions that it further remand it to the hearing officer with directions that the applicable death benefits be awarded to Mrs. Fisher.

Reversed and remanded.

J. Hill delivered the decision.

Link: .

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses the "Universal Citation." It was given an "official" citation when it was issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. Please note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you pinpoint cite to a quote, you should cite to this paragraph number rather than to any page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]

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