Friday, October 10, 2008

Summary 2008 WY 125

Summary of Decision issued October 10, 2008

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

Case Name: State ex rel., Wyoming Workers’ Safety & Comp. Div. v. Baldwin

Citation: 2008 WY 125

Docket Number: S-07-0284

Appeal from the District Court of Sweetwater County, the Honorable Nen R. James, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Bruce A. Salzburg, Wyoming Attorney General; John W. Renneisen, Deputy Attorney General; Steven R. Czoschke, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Kristi M. Radosevich, Assistant Attorney General.

Representing Appellee: Donna D. Domonkos, Cheyenne, Wyomng.

Facts/Discussion: Appellee Baldwin suffered a work-related injury and temporary total disability benefits were approved. After receiving a partial impairment rating, Baldwin applied for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. The Division denied benefits on the ground that he could return to his previous employment. The Division does not dispute that Baldwin was injured or that his injuries were work-related, rather the Division takes exception to the hearing examiner’s award of PPD benefits.

Actively Sought Suitable Work: The evidence presented at the contested hearing supports the conclusion that Baldwin sought employment since his injury. The hearing examiner cited to an older version of the definition of “actively seeking work.” However, his application of the rule was consistent with the proper definition.
Return to Work at 95% of Pre-injury Wage:
Baldwin was earning $17.00 per hour when he was injured. To qualify for PPD, he was required to show that he was unable to secure employment at a wage equal to 95% of his pre-injury pay. There was conflicting medical evidence concerning Baldwin’s physical limitations. It was the finder of facts’ duty to weigh the evidence and resolve such conflicts. The hearing examiner addressed the conflicting evidence when he discounted one doctor’s opinion because of its lack of detail and accepted the restrictions imposed by a second doctor. The Division also asserted that the hearing examiner failed properly to consider the vocational evaluation. The Court’s review of the hearing examiner’s determination that Baldwin could not return to employment at 95% of his pre-injury wage was supported by substantial evidence.

Holding: The hearing examiner’s findings that Baldwin was actively seeking suitable employment and that he was unable to return to work at a job paying 95% of his pre-injury wage were supported by substantial evidence and in accordance with the law.


C.J. Voigt delivered the decision.


[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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