Faith W. from Washington Court House had a 10th-grade education followed by additional training from a business college and in cosmetology. She worked as a keypunch operator, hairdresser, factory assembler and prep-cook.

She fell at work, hitting her back on a metal rack and then falling onto the cement floor, tailbone first. In addition to a fractured coccyx, she injured her back and ankle. She developed gastritis from her pain medication and a low-grade depression.

What makes her case particularly noteworthy is how she came to be declared permanently and totally disabled under her claim. She continued to work off and on for many years until her condition worsened significantly. She went through months of rehabilitation efforts, including vocational retraining. Having worked a variety of jobs beginning at a young age, Faith was always open to trying something new. When the BWC vocational experts concluded she was unemployable, we applied for permanent total disability.

As verification that the Industrial Commission is not bound by decisions of the BWC, Faith’s application for PTD was denied even though the vocational program had already concluded she was unemployable. We filed an action in Mandamus with the Franklin County Court of Appeals, asserting that the Industrial Commission’s decision contained clear legal error; namely, that the doctor who examined Faith for the IC failed to examine her on all the conditions allowed in her claim. (An “action in Mandamus” alleges that the Industrial Commission abused the discretion it has to decide disputed issues. Essentially, we argued the IC had no legitimate basis to rely upon a defective medical report from its own doctor to deny the PTD application.)

The Ohio Attorney General’s office (which represents the BWC and the IC before the Ohio Courts of Appeal) agreed to have the Court vacate the IC’s denial order and remand the case to the IC for a new hearing. With a new exam and a new hearing officer, we were successful in obtaining Faith’s PTD benefits and back pay. One lesson here is that sometimes “you gots to keep on keepin’ on” to win your case—and that the IC sometimes has to be ordered to follow its own rules.

James Monast
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Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbus, Ohio