ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE:
TERRY R. BOESCH JULIA BLACKWELL GELINAS
SUSAN KOZLOWSKI BRUCE J. ALVARADO
DAVID T. SZUMSKI Locke Reynolds Boyd & Weisell
Terry R. Boesch, Attorney, P.C. Indianapolis, Indiana
CARLOS WICKER, ) ) Appellant-Plaintiff, ) ) vs. ) No. 93A02-9904-EX-00296 ) COMMUNITY MEDIA GROUP ) d/b/a RENSSELAER REPUBLICAN, ) ) Appellee-Defendant. )
OPINION - FOR PUBLICATION
Perthes' nine years ago. R. at 67. Wicker's prior medical records indicate that he was
diagnosed with Perthes' disease in 1987, and, in one report, his prognosis was described as
dim. R. at 69-70, 77, 81.
Wicker filed an Application for Adjustment of Claim on September 22, 1997, alleging that he had injured his left hip at work on April 25, 1997. We note that on the application, Wicker stated that his employer was not notified of his alleged injury until April 28. R. at 4. Republican denied his claim for worker's compensation benefits on the ground that Wicker had a preexisting injury to his hip.
A hearing was held before a Single Hearing Member on March 17, 1998. The parties stipulated to the following facts: (1) Wicker was employed by Republican on November 25, 1996 through April 25, 1997; (2) Wicker was employed at an average weekly wage of $193.00; and, (3) Wicker is alleging injury on April 25, 1997.See footnote 1 Record at 61. The parties further stipulated that the only issue was whether the injuries Wicker suffered arose out of the scope and course of his employment with Republican. R. at 61. Finally, the parties stipulated that the evidence included medical records of Dr. Kenneth J. Ahler. R. at 61, 64- 92. Following the admission into evidence of these stipulations, including the medical records, the parties proceeded to introduce witness testimony. Wicker, his girlfriend and his mother testified on his behalf. Wicker's supervisor on the night in question and Republican's Regional Business Manager testified for Republican. Thereafter, the Single Hearing Member
awarded medical expenses and temporary total disability payments to Wicker. Specifically,
the Single Hearing Member made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
Said Hearing Judge, having heard all the evidence in said cause, the stipulation of the parties, and having reviewed the entire file and being duly advised in the premises therein, now adopts the stipulation as the Board's findings.
1. It is further found that the plaintiff was injured in the course and scope of his employment with the defendant on April 25, 1997.
2. It is further found that plaintiff's girlfriend, Stacey Laffoon, testified that she went personally to the office on Monday, April 28th and notified the employer that the plaintiff had sustained a work-related injury and that the plaintiff had in fact gone to the emergency room where he was referred to Dr. Gripe.
3. It is further found that the employer has never terminated the plaintiff's employment.
4. It is further found that the defendant through its secretary in charge of processing insurance claims testified that it is the responsibility of the supervisor once aware that an employee has sustained an injury to notify the secretary for purposes of preparing and filing worker's compensation forms and that that was not done by Mr. Schnelle, plaintiff's supervisor herein.
5. It is further found that the defendant's secretary was once again notified by the plaintiff's girlfriend, Stacey Laffoon, on May 8, 1997 of plaintiff's injury.
6. It is further found that plaintiff's supervisor, Mr. Schnelle, testified that he was in fact aware that the plaintiff complained of pain for an incident that occurred on or about April 25, 1997.
7. It is further found that the defendant did not produce an employee, manager, or supervisor who made the decision to refuse medical treatment to the plaintiff or to provide to the Board testimony regarding the reasons for refusing treatment to the plaintiff.
8. It is further found that the defendant has failed to produce any evidence from any witness that the plaintiff was injured in any other event other than the incident that plaintiff testified to under oath which occurred on or about April 25, 1997 while in the employ of the defendant.
9. It is further found that the plaintiff, his girlfriend, and plaintiff's mother all testified that from approximately the time plaintiff was 15 years of age to the date of this accident that the plaintiff had no problems with his hip, did not require any active treatment for any pre-existing hip condition, and was involved in heavy physical activities during that timeframe.
Thereafter, on May 7, 1998, Republican filed its Application for Review by Full Board. Republican subsequently filed a brief in anticipation of the hearing, challenging many of the Single Hearing Member's findings and arguing that the only medical evidence offered at the previous hearing contradicts the testimony of Wicker, his girlfriend and his mother, and establishes that Wicker is suffering from a preexisting degenerative condition known as Perthes' disease. A hearing was held before the Board on December 14, 1998, and
on March 26, 1999, a majority of the members of the Board found, without issuing findings,See footnote
that the Single Hearing Member's decision should be reversed. Wicker now appeals.
a sudden onset of pain, similar to an episode that he had in December, in his hip when he
went to sit on the bed. R. at 84. From the evidence in the record, reasonable persons would
be bound to reach the conclusion that Wicker suffered from a preexisting injury. Therefore,
we hold that remand is unnecessary, as Wicker would not be entitled to dispositive findings
in his favor. Consequently, we find that the Board's reversal is supported by substantial
SHARPNACK, C.J., concurs.
MATTINGLY, J., concurs in result, with opinion.
COURT OF APPEALS OF INDIANA
CARLOS WICKER, )
vs. ) No. 93A02-9904-EX-296
COMMUNITY MEDIA GROUP )
d/b/a RENNSSELAER REPUBLICAN, )
MATTINGLY, Judge, concurring in result with opinion
I concur in the majority's result; however, I have serious reservations about our failure to require that the Board, in this case, set out specific written findings of fact in support of its decision. I write separately to remind the Full Board that the majority's decision does not obviate the need for specific written findings of fact.
Written findings of fact which support the Board's decision are necessary so that an appellate court may intelligently review the decision without speculating as to the agency's rationale." Wayman, 694 N.E.2d at 770. We have required that these findings of fact be specific. Id.; see also Wayman v. J & S Petroleum, Inc., 706 N.E.2d 1107, 1109 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999). Specific findings of fact are necessary if we intend our system of administrative
law to be effective. K-Mart Corp. v. Morrison, 609 N.E.2d 17, 31-32 (Ind. Ct. App. 1993).
I am concerned that our failure to require in this case that the Board issue specific findings
of fact supporting its reversal of the Single Hearing Member's decision might begin to chip
away at long-standing precedent requiring specific findings of fact.
I agree, however, that the Full Board's decision was correct, and I thus concur in the result reached by the majority.
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