Signature-Stamped Doctor’s Report is Valid Evidence
State, ex rel. LTV Steel v. Indus. Comm. (3/24/99), 85 Ohio St.3d 75.
Issue: Does a signature-stamped doctor’s report provide valid evidence of an injured worker’s condition?
Background: Grecu had two workers’ compensation claims. His doctor, Dr. K, prepared reports that were signed with a signature stamp and contained the stamped statement, “Signature in my absence to avoid delay in mailing.”
Dr. K stated in two signature-stamped reports that Grecu was permanently and totally disabled. The commission awarded permanent total compensation based on the reports of Dr. K.
The employer filed a mandamus to challenge the Commission’s decision. The Court of Appeals granted mandamus and ordered the Commission to vacate permanent total. The Court of Appeals based its decision entirely on the nature of Dr. K’s signature. The Court of Appeals considered the stamped reports unsigned and, therefore, not evidence to support permanent total.
Decision: Supreme Court reverses and returns case to Commission.
The Court considers the stamped reports signed because the stamped signature was done at the doctor’s direction.
The Court distinguishes between completely unsigned report such as reports that say “dictated but not read or signed” and a stamped signature. Ohio statutes governing commercial paper state that a signature need not be made by the hand of the signer. A signature may be made by machine, or by a word, mark or symbol executed or adopted by a person with present intention to authenticate a writing. Ohio’s statute on wills allows a signature made by another person in the testator’s presence at the testator’s direction to be a valid signature. The Court sees no reason to hold a doctor’s report in a workers’ compensation case to a higher standard than commercial paper or a will.
The Court rules that a signature-stamped report constitutes a signed report and may be relied upon as evidence. The stamp provided legitimacy that an unsigned report lacks.
Editor’s Comment: The Court remands the case to the Commission to consider whether Grecu voluntarily retired.