Monday, March 21, 2011

Summary 2011 WY 49

Summary of Decision March 21, 2011

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

Case Name: Watkins v. State

Citation: 2011 WY 49

Docket Number: S-10-0129


Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, the Honorable Peter G. Arnold, Judge.

Representing Appellant (Claimant): Bill G. Hibbler of Bill G. Hibbler, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee (Respondent): Bruce A. Salzburg, Wyoming Attorney General; John W. Renneisen, Deputy Attorney General; James M. Causey, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Kelly Roseberry, Assistant Attorney General.

Date of Decision: March 21, 2011

Facts: The Appellant felt a pop in his back and began experiencing pain after he jumped down from his work truck. The Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division awarded temporary total disability (TTD) benefits for a period of time and then eventually terminated those benefits. The Division’s denial of benefits was affirmed in a contested case hearing before the Wyoming Medical Commission and the Appellant appealed from that decision.

Issue: Whether the Commission’s determination that the Appellant did not meet his burden of proving he was entitled to further TTD benefits was supported by substantial evidence.

Holdings: The Appellant’s January 2, 2007, injury (back pain arising after he jumped down from his truck) was work-related and compensable. The question presented was whether there was substantial evidence to support the Commission’s determination that the Appellant was no longer entitled to TTD benefits after May 21, 2007―the date of the Appellant’s IME. The Appellant claimed that there was a “total lack of substantial evidence” to support the Commission’s determination that his condition had stabilized on that date such that he should not receive additional TTD benefits. The Commission’s determination that the Appellant did not meet his burden of proving he was entitled to further TTD benefits was supported by substantial evidence. Based on the facts presented, the Court found that the Commission could have reasonably concluded as it did. Affirmed.

Justice Voigt delivered the opinion for the Court.

Justice Hill filed a dissenting opinion.

The dissenting opinion concluded that when the Court deletes from consideration what amounts to idle speculation on the part of the hearing panel, as well as inaccurate, incomplete and/or insubstantial findings, the denial of benefits in this case could not stand.

The dissenting opinion would reverse the order of the district court and remand the case to that court with further directions that it be remanded to the Medical Commission for the purpose of it directing the Division to award Appellant any and all medical benefits and disability awards that are due him for the work-related injury that occurred on January 2, 2007.

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