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Supreme Court Holds the Commission Must Address Whether a Job Offer is Made in Good Faith in Determining a Request for TTD Compensation

In State ex rel. Pacheco v. Indus. Comm., 2019-Ohio-2954, the claimant sustained a work injury for which he received TTD compensation.  The employer offered the claimant light duty employment, which consisted of sitting in the company cafeteria performing no work.  After three weeks in this light duty position, the claimant obtained a doctor’s report disabling the claimant from work, although the report contained restrictions which would have complied with the light duty position provided by the company.  Upon receiving the doctor’s report, the claimant did not return to his light duty position and filed a motion with the Commission requesting TTD compensation.

The Commission denied the claimant’s request for TTD compensation on the ground that the claimant failed to provide persuasive medical evidence that he could not perform the light duty position.  The claimant filed a mandamus complaint in the 10th District Court of Appeals, requesting the court vacate the Commission’s order and grant TTD compensation.  The court of appeals concluded there was “some evidence” to support the Commission’s finding that the light duty job was within the claimant’s restrictions; however, the court found the light duty job offer was not made in good faith.  Accordingly, the court of appeals issued a writ ordering the Commission to either grant the TTD compensation request or conduct another hearing.  The Commission and the employer appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court agreed with the court of appeals to the extent that it found there was some evidence supporting the Commission’s finding regarding the claimant’s restrictions.  The Supreme Court disagreed with the finding that the light duty job offer was not made in good faith because such a finding is reserved for the Commission.  The Supreme Court reasoned that whether or not the light duty job offer was made in good faith, consistent with Ohio Admin. Code 4121-3-32(A)(6), is a factual determination.  Only the Industrial Commission has authority to make factual determinations.  Because the Commission never addressed the issue of good faith in denying compensation, the Court issued a limited writ ordering the Commission to determine in the first instance whether the employer offered the light duty job in good faith and to issue a new order.

Under Ohio workers’ compensation law (R.C. 4123.56(A)) TTD compensation is not payable if the employer makes work available within the claimant’s physical capabilities.  However, the job offered by the employer, must be suitable employment and made in good faith.

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