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Tentative significant decisions

All dockets are in Adobe Acrobat/PDF format

November 2016

Stay-at-work law
The Board held that under provisions of the stay-at-work law RCW 51.32.090(4), an employer may receive reimbursement for keeping an injured worker at work, for periods worked prior to the doctor's approval of the job.
In re Ellen E. Wright, Dckt. No. 15 19928 (November 4, 2016)

Unreasonable delay penalties
A self-insured employer should not be penalized for the failure to timely pay benefits if it had a genuine doubt from a medical or legal standpoint as to the liability for benefits. The Board clarifies that a genuine doubt as to the obligation to pay benefits does not arise merely because an employer files an appeal from an order to pay benefits. This is true regardless of whether the employer also files a motion to stay benefits. If the employer doesn’t pay, it must prove it has a genuine doubt under In re Frank Madrid or risk becoming liable for an unreasonable delay penalty.
In re Alfredo Suarez, Dckt. No. 15 20822 (November 21, 2016)

December 2016

Procedure/perpetuation depositions/deliberate refusal to file
The employer's attorney took a perpetuation deposition with the IAJ's permission, but deliberately didn't file the deposition transcript, nor notify the IAJ that the deposition would not be filed. A perpetuation deposition is simply live testimony taken out of the presence of the IAJ. If a party calls a witness at hearing and is not happy with the witness's testimony, it cannot retroactively cancel the testimony. The same applies to perpetuation depositions.
In re Ann M. Vanzuyt, Dckt. Nos. 15 18385 (December 13, 2016)

Procedure/adjudication of issue not identified pretrial or in notice of appeal
The Department denied acceptance stress urinary incontinence and closed the claim with a PPD award. During hearings the worker offered evidence that she suffered sexual dysfunction as a result of the industrial injury. The IAJ excluded this on grounds that the sexual dysfunction wasn't raised as an issue previously. The Board held that while it is unfortunate the issue wasn't identified prehearing, the employer didn't object or demonstrate prejudice due to the worker raising this issue at hearing. The Board remanded for further testimony on whether sexual dysfunction should be accepted under the claim.
In re Ann M. Vanzuyt, Dckt. Nos. 15 18385 (December 13, 2016)