Thursday, August 01, 2013

Summary 2013 WY 75

Summary of Decision June 18, 2013

Justice Voigt delivered the opinion for the Court. Affirmed.


Docket Number: S-12-0250


Appeal from the District Court of Albany County, Honorable Dan R. Price, Judge

Representing Appellant (Plaintiff/Defendant): William G. Hibbler of Bill G. Hibbler P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff/Defendant): Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; John D. Rossetti, Deputy Attorney General; Michael J. Finn, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Kelly Roseberry, Assistant Attorney General.

Date of Decision: June 18, 2013

Facts: Daniel L. Decker, the appellant, applied for a permanent partial disability award. The Wyoming Worker’s Safety and Compensation Division’s (Division) denial of that application was upheld by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) on the basis that the appellant failed to show that he was unable to return to work at a wage at least 95% of his earnings at the time of his injury. The district court affirmed the OAH’s decision, albeit based on a different assessment of the appellant’s ability to earn a living in the aftermath of his injury.

Issues: Was the OAH’s decision supported by substantial evidence and was the decision properly supported by the law?

Holdings: The appellant is appealing his denial of an award of permanent partial disability benefits for failure to show that he is unable to earn at least 95% of his pre-injury wage. There is substantial evidence in the record that supports the OAH’s finding that he earned $3,496.65 per month at the time of his injury. The OAH did misapply the law by comparing this figure to a “snapshot” of the appellant’s post-injury earning history. The appellant has spent the seven years prior to his application for permanent partial disability benefits employed in a position that relies upon his extensive experience and expertise as a sheet metal worker. This period therefore represents the appellant’s true ability to earn a living following his disability. Because he earned an average of $3,546.68 per month over this period, which is more than he earned prior to his injury, the appellant cannot show that he is unable to return to work at a wage at least 95% of his pre-injury wage. We affirm.

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

[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. You will also note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you need to provide a pinpoint citation to a quote the universal portion of the citation will use that paragraph number. The pinpoint citation in the P.3d portion will need to have the reporter page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation from this, or any future opinion using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library and we will provide any needed assistance]

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