Two Year Notice Requirement Does Not Apply to Claims for Residual Conditions
Specht v. BP America, Inc. (6/30/99), 86 Ohio St.3d 29.
Issue: Does the two-year time limit for filing workers’ compensation claims apply to a psychiatric condition arising from the oringinal injury?
Background: In 1988 the Ohio Supreme Court created a time limit for filing for psychiatric conditions and other conditions developing as a result of the initial injury (called “residual injuries”) in a case called Clementi. Clementi required an injured worker to file such claims within two years from the time the injured worker “knew or should have known” of the condition.
This requirement led to a number of problems. In a recent case called Lewis v. Trimble (1997), 79 Ohio St.3d 231, the Supreme Court recognized that the Clementi decision “has generated substantial confusion.” The Court also recognized that
Clementi seems to impose upon a claimant requirements that are either not imposed under R.C. 4123.84 or directly conflict with other statutory provisions and case law.
However, because the injured worker in Lewis did not raise the issue of whether the Court had properly decided Clementi, the Court did not consider that issue.
In the present case, Specht had an allowed workers’ compensation claim for a back injury in 1985. In 1989, she filed for an additional psychiatric condition resulting from the back injury.
The lower courts dismissed her claim for the psychiatric injury based on Clementi, finding that she had not filed for the psychiatric condition within two years of the time that she “knew or should have known” she had a psyciatric condition.
Specht argued that the Court had improperly decided Clementi and should overrule that decision.
Decision: The Supreme Court agreed and held in the syllabus of the case:
The two-year notice requirement in R.C. 4123.84(A) does not apply to claims for residual conditions, and these claims must be considered within the Industrial Commission’s continuing jurisdiction under R.C. 4123.52. (Clementi v. Wean United, Inc. , 39 Ohio St.3d 342, 530 N.E.2d 909, overruled.)