Submitted: December 17, 2014
Upon an Appeal from the Decision of the Industrial Accident Board.
Walt F. Schmittinger, Esquire of Schmittinger and Rodriguez, P.A., Dover, Delaware; attorney for the Appellant.
Christine P. O'Connor, Esquire and Benjamin K. Durstein, Esquire of Tybout Redfearn & Pell, Wilmington, Delaware; attorneys for Appellee.
William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge
The issue before the Court is whether the Industrial Accident Board's denial of Appellant's Petition for Compensation Due is supported by substantial evidence and free from legal error. For the following reasons, the decision by the Industrial Accident Board is affirmed.
___This is an appeal by Claimant-Below Edith Martin (hereinafter "Martin" or "Appellant") from the decision of the Industrial Accident Board (hereinafter "the Board" or "IAB") denying Martin's Petition to Determine Additional Compensation Due.
Martin has previously been denied benefits by the IAB in a 2012 decision that she appealed but was subsequently affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court. It appears that Martin is attempting to receive compensation stemming from the same injury previously litigated, but this appeal involves a time period after her first petition for compensation was denied.
In 2007, Martin was previously involved in an industrial accident resulting in her employer compensating her for total disability benefits following a work-related injury and subsequent knee surgery. Martin worked in the food services department for the State at the Delaware Home and Hospital (hereinafter "the State" or "Employer") from 2000 to 2008. She injured her knees when she fell through a drainage grate on the floor on August 15, 2007. Martin underwent two separate surgeries, the first in 2008 and the second in 2011. Martin's doctor placed her on total disability status from January 21, 2011 to March 30, 2011. Claimant's first appearance before the Court was April 21, 2012, when she appealed a decision by the IAB that denied her compensation. In the first decision, the Board determined that Martin "had not voluntarily withdrawn from the workforce, because she had taken active steps to find a job." The Superior Court reversed the Board, and held that it had abused its discretion by admitting evidence of Martin's job search that was previously unavailable. The Superior Court reversed and remanded for a new Board hearing. On remand, the Board found that Martin had left the workforce voluntarily and was not entitled to any benefits. The Superior Court affirmed the Board's decision, and Martin appealed the decision to the Delaware Supreme Court. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision.
Martin now seeks to appeal a separate claim from the IAB, stemming from a knee replacement procedure on October 1, 2012. The Board issued its decision on March 11, 2014 and addressed whether Martin had voluntarily left the workforce immediately prior to the knee replacement. The parties agreed on the following facts:
"Claimant was medically totally disabled from October 1, 2012 through November 1, 2012 and again from January 9, 2013 through July 30, 2013." The Claimant argues she was also totally disabled from November 1, 2012 to January 9, 2013, while the Employer argues that she voluntarily removed herself from the workforce during this period.
The Claimant also filed a Petition to Determine Additional Compensation Due which was an appeal of the Utilization Review determination that denied ...