Permanence does not Equal MMI
State, ex rel. DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Indus. Comm. (3/24/09), 121 Ohio St.3d 341, 2009-Ohio-1219.
Issue: Is an injured worker entitled to temporary total when their condition has not reachedMMI but their condition will “permanently” prevent them from returning to their former position of employment?
Background: Moran was receiving temporary total. All of the medical evidence indicated that her condition had not reached MMI (maximum medical improvement). However, her doctor had also indicated that she would be permanently unable to return to her former position of employment.
The employer sought to have temporary total terminated because of the treating doctor’s opinion that Moran would be unable to return to her former position of employment. The Industrial Commission refused to do so. The employer filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus in the Court of Appeals seeking to have temporary total vacated because Moran was permanently unable to return to her former position of employment. The Court of Appeals denied the requested writ and the employer appealed.
Decision: Supreme Court affirms.
Under R.C. §4123.56(A) one of the reasons for terminating temporary total is when the injured worker reaches MMI. The statute does not provide that a “permanent” inability to return to the former position of employment bars temporary total.
O.A.C. 4121-3-32(A)(1) defines MMI as a “treatment plateau.” It does not reference “permanent” inability to return to the former position of employment. In spite of this, the employer claimed Moran was barred from temporary total based on language in State ex rel. Ramirez v. Indus. Comm. (1982), 69 Ohio St.2d 630, which had stated that an injured worker was entitled to temporary total until a condition had “become permanent.” The Supreme Court rejects this argument because “we continue to declare MMI to be the only standard by which temporary total disability compensation can be terminated on a basis of permanency.”
Editor’s Comment: One of the flaws in the employer’s argument was that when Ramirez was decided in 1982 the statute did not provide grounds for terminating temporary total. The grounds for terminating temporary total were added to the statute in 1986. In the 1986 amendment the legislature specified under what circumstances temporary total could be terminated and indicated that MMI, not a “permanent” inability to return to the former position of employment, would terminate temporary total.