Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Department of Workforce Services, Unemployment Insurance Commission denying Jesse Gerber unemployment benefits, holding that the Commission correctly determined that Gerber was not eligible for employment benefits.The Commission determined that Gerber had left work voluntarily without good cause and did not qualify for the "returning to approved training" exception in Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-3-311(a)(i)(B). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Gerber did not meet the conditions of the statutory exception, and therefore, the Commission's decision denying Gerber unemployment benefits conformed with the law. View "Gerber v. State ex rel., Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury action brought pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of one of Plaintiff's co-employee supervisors, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed.Plaintiff was injured when his hand and arm became entangled in a pipe-straightening machine at his place of employment. Plaintiff sued his co-employee supervisors - Elvin Brown, Bill Wartenbee, and Bryce Mitchell - claiming they were not entitled to immunity from liability under the Act because they intentionally acted to cause physical harm or injury to Plaintiff. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Brown and Wartenbee were entitled to judgment as a matter of law and were immune from liability for Plaintiff's injury; and (2) Plaintiff established genuine issues of material fact against Mitchell precluding summary judgment. The Court remanded the claim against Mitchell for trial. View "Ramirez v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Medical Commission upholding that decision of the Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Division denying workers' compensation benefits because Appellant failed to establish a causal connection between his injury and employment, holding that the Commission's decision was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence.The Division denied benefits because Appellant did not submit evidence establishing a causal connection between his injury and employment as required by Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-603(a). The Commission upheld the denial of benefits after rejecting the opinions of Appellant's medical experts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission's determination that Appellant failed to meet his burden under section 27-14-603(a) for an injury occurring over a substantial period of time was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. View "McMillan v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court upholding the decision oft he Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) denying workers' compensation benefits to Appellant, holding that a previous order by the OAH was not a final, appealable order and that collateral estoppel was not applicable.Appellant filed for workers' compensation benefits after his leg was amputated below the knee. The Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division (the Division) denied the claim. Appellant appealed, but while the contested case hearing was pending the Division withdrew its denial of benefits. In response, the OAH issued an order vacating the hearing and directing the Division to award workers' compensation benefits. The Division issued a redetermination in favor of Appellant. Appellant's employer objected, and after a contested case hearing, OAH denied workers' compensation benefits. The district court upheld the OAH decision denying benefits. On appeal, Appellant claimed that the first OAH order was a final appealable order awarding benefits and that his employer was collaterally estopped from objecting to the Division's redetermination awarding benefits. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the first OAH order was not a "prior adjudication" of workers' compensation benefits and provided no basis to implicate the principle of collateral estoppel. View "Lower v. Peabody Powder River Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this workers compensation case with instructions to determine whether excusable neglect extended Petitioner's time to file a petition for review of the determination of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) that Petitioner's bacterial infection was not compensable, holding that the district court's decision letter did not address whether excusable neglect extended the time Petitioner had to file his petition for review.Thirty-five days after the OAH concluded that Petitioner's infection was not compensable Petitioner filed a petition for review in the district court. The district court reversed the OAH order. On appeal, Petitioner's employer argued that the district court lacked jurisdiction because the petition was filed one day past the deadline. The Supreme Court remanded the case because the record did not reveal whether the district court considered the question of whether excusable neglect extended the time for filing a petition for review. View "Tata Chemicals Soda Ash Partners, Ltd. v. Vinson" on Justia 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