R.C. 4123.512 Appeal Limited to Conditions Addressed by Commission
Ward v. Kroger Co. (7/27/05), 106 Ohio St.3d 35, 2005-Ohio-3560.
Issue: Can conditions not raised administratively be raised for the first time in court during an R.C. 4123.512 appeal?
Background: Ward’s knee was injured at work. His claim was allowed for knee sprain, but disallowed for “medial meniscus tear and chondromalacia of the right knee.”
Ward appealed the Commission’s denial under R.C. §4123.512. Before the trial, the trial court permitted Ward to add the conditions of “aggravation of preexisting degenerative joint disease and aggravation of preexisting osteoarthritis” to his appeal. Ward then dismissed his appeal for chondromalacia.
A jury allowed Ward’s claim for the newly added conditions, but not the initially appealed condition of medial meniscus tear. The employer appealed to the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals found that the trial court had improperly permitted Ward to add the additional claims at the trial court level, and found for the employer. Ward appealed.
Decision: Supreme Court affirms.
Different Courts of Appeals have reached different decisions on whether or not an injured worker can add new conditions while an R.C. 4123.512 appeal is before the trial court. Some Courts have found that the appeal is limited to what was before the Industrial Commission; some have found that because the R.C. 4123.512 appeal is a de novo appeal, new conditions can be added.
The Supreme Court agrees with those Courts which ruled that an R.C.4123.512 appeal is limited to only the condition(s) appealed from the Commission’s order. The Court finds that permitting the addition of conditions at the trial court level would be inconsistent with the statutory scheme set forth in R.C. 4123.511, which provides for the initial adjudication of claims at the administrative level. The Court points out that R.C. 4123.512 is just a method providing for judicial review of those administrative decisions.
Editor’s Comment: The Court’s holding is clear that a new condition –– separate from that involved in the appeal –– can be filed administratively and is not waived by the failure to initially raise it. In its decision the Court explicitly rejected an argument made by the BWC that Ward had waived the additional conditions by not pursuing them administratively. The Court states that the additional conditions are new claims, not issues relating to the original claim, and therefore can be separately filed.
The Court leaves open the issue of whether a claim initially filed as an injury can be pursued as an aggravation (or vice versa).