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Light Duty Job Offers Need Not Be In Writing When Defending Against A New Period Of TTD

In State ex rel. Mercy Health v. Indus. Comm. of Ohio, 10th Dist. No. 18AP-64, 2019-Ohio-1859 claimant was injured in 2017 and her claim was allowed for strains to the lumbar region and left wrist.  The physician assistant treating the claimant completed a Medco-14 certifying she could not return to her former position of employment but could return to work with restrictions as of May 18, 2017.  On May 22, 2017 an employee health nurse for the company contacted claimant by telephone and offered her a light-duty position within her restrictions to begin May 25, 2017.  Claimant failed to return to work that day and left the company a voicemail on May 30, 2017 indicating she would not be accepting the job.  On June 2, 2017, the company sent her a written light-duty job offer by mail describing the same job offered on May 22, 2017.  Claimant accepted the light-duty job offer and returned to work on June 6, 2017.  Claimant then filed a Motion for temporary total disability compensation for the closed period of May 25, 2017 through June 5, 2017.

At hearing, the company argued the motion should be denied because claimant refused a valid light-duty job offer.  The Commission rejected the argument finding claimant accepted the offer and began working June 6, 2017 and temporary total disability compensation was payable before she returned to work in her light duty position on June 6, 2017.

The company filed a Mandamus action in the Tenth District Court of Appeals challenging the order.  The court acknowledged Ohio Admin Code 4121-3-32 requires any light duty job offer used to terminate temporary total disability compensation be in writing, but here the issue was the start of a new period of temporary total disability compensation.  R.C. 4123.56(A) provides temporary total disability compensation is not payable when the employer makes a job offer within the physical capabilities of the claimant and does not include a requirement that the offer be in writing.  The court therefore granted the company’s request for a writ of mandamus and ordered the Commission to vacate its order granting temporary total disability compensation and consider the validity and effect of the oral job offer.

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