Permanent Partial Disability Award Does Not Include Disability

Permanent Partial Disability Award Does Not Include Disability

Posted: July, 1996

State, ex rel. Holman v. Longfellow Restaurant (7/3/96), 76 Ohio St.3d 44.

Issue: Should the Commission take disability factors into account when making a permanent partial disability award?

Background: Holman worked as a waitress and injured her low back. In 1990 she received a permanent partial award. In 1992 additional conditions were allowed (arthritic changes L4- 5 and L5-S1) and Holman filed for an increase in permanent partial disability. The Commission denied her request for an increase based on medical reports of Drs. B and L and a consideration of Holman’s age, education, work history. Holman filed a mandamus challenge to this order in the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals granted mandamus.

Decision: Ohio Supreme Court reverses.

The Court rules that the Commission does not abuse its discretion basing a permanent partial award on medical or clinical findings. It overrules State ex rel. Dickey-Grabler v. Indus. Comm. (1992), 63 Ohio St.3d 465 (disability factors to be considered in permanent partial awards.)

R.C. Section 4123.57(A) [formerly (B)] can be interpreted in different ways. The Court reviews the statutory history and says the history undermines Holman’s argument that the legislature clearly intended to include non-medical disability factors in a permanent partial award.

Editor’s Comment: It is not often the Court reverses itself within four years.

After this decision, the Industrial Commission issued Resolution R96- 1-04 which ordered hearing officers in permanent partial cases to issue their decisions solely based on the medical evidence.

It is interesting that the Commission ignored Dickey-Grabler for four years, but issued a resolution immediately on the issuance of this case directing hearing officers not to consider disability factors on permanent partial disability awards.

Information courtesy of the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin. Subscribe to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin to keep informed about the Ohio workers’ compensation system.