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State of Ohio Ex Rel. Cleveland v. Industrial Commission of Ohio et al

November 3, 2011

STATE OF OHIO EX REL. CLEVELAND BROWNS FOOTBALL COMPANY, LLC, RELATOR,
v.
INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION OF OHIO ET AL.,
RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: French, J.

Cite as State ex rel. Cleveland Browns Football Co., L.L.C. v. Indus. Comm.,

(REGULAR CALENDAR)

DECISION

IN MANDAMUS

ON OBJECTIONS TO THE MAGISTRATE'S DECISION

{¶1} Relator, Cleveland Browns Football Company, LLC ("relator"), filed an original action, which asks this court to issue a writ of mandamus ordering respondent Industrial Commission of Ohio ("commission") to vacate the March 18, 2010 order that awards respondent Justin Sandy ("claimant") temporary total disability ("TTD") compensation for the periods of (1) August 22, 2007 through February 25, 2008, (2) March 1 through June 9, 2008, and (3) August 12, 2008 through July 1, 2010, and to enter an order denying that compensation.

{¶2} This matter was referred to a magistrate pursuant to Civ.R. 53(C) and Loc.R. 12(M) of the Tenth District Court of Appeals. The magistrate issued a decision, which includes findings of fact and conclusions of law and is appended to this decision, recommending that this court grant a writ ordering the commission to vacate that portion of the March 18, 2010 order that grants compensation for any period prior to May 4, 2009 on grounds of res judicata.

I. BACKGROUND

{¶3} On August 22, 2007, claimant suffered a work-related injury to his right knee, and a claim was allowed for right knee sprain. In February 2008, Anthony Miniaci, M.D., completed a C-84 that certified TTD beginning on August 22, 2007, and ending on an undetermined date. J. Richard Steadman, M.D., thereafter filed additional C-84's.

{¶4} Following a hearing on May 4, 2009, a staff hearing officer ("SHO") of the commission issued an order that denied TTD compensation. The SHO denied the claim for lack of credible medical evidence and because Dr. Steadman considered nonallowed conditions.

{¶5} In August 2009, claimant moved for additional allowances for chondral defect and diffuse atrophy. Relator agreed to allow the claim for substantial aggravation of pre-existing chondral defect.

{¶6} Following a March 18, 2010 hearing, an SHO issued an order that found claimant was entitled to TTD compensation during the following three periods of time:

(1) August 22, 2007 through February 25, 2008, based on the February 25, 2008 C-84 submitted by Dr. Miniaci; (2) March 1 through June 9, 2008, based on the August 4, 2009 C-84 submitted by Dr. Miniaci; and (3) August 12, 2008 through July 1, 2010, based on C-84's submitted by Dr. Steadman.

{¶7} As noted, relator filed this mandamus action. The magistrate concluded that the doctrine of res judicata precluded the SHO from awarding TTD compensation for any time period that had been considered in the May 4, 2009 order; therefore, the commission abused its discretion by awarding compensation the May 4, 2009 order denied. As for the SHO's award of compensation for the period following May 4, 2009, however, the magistrate concluded that the commission had some evidence on which to grant compensation for the period from May 5, 2009 through July 1, 2010, and the commission did not err by doing so.

{¶8} Both relator and claimant filed objections to the magistrate's decision. We begin with claimant's objections.

II. CLAIMANT'S OBJECTIONS

{¶9} Claimant objects to the magistrate's findings of fact and identifies seven additional facts he would like added to those findings. These additional facts, he contends, lead to the legal conclusion that the commission had continuing jurisdiction to address his injuries based on a changed condition. Specifically, the addition of the allowance for substantial aggravation of his pre-existing chondral defect, he argues, precludes application of res judicata.

{¶10} As the magistrate noted, however, claimant did not attempt to invoke the continuing jurisdiction of the commission based on new or changed circumstances, and the commission never addressed its exercise of continuing jurisdiction for that or any other reason. The commission now concedes that it was without authority to address claimant's second application, which covered a previously-denied period, without explicitly exercising continuing jurisdiction.*fn1 For all the reasons given by the magistrate, we overrule claimant's objections on these grounds.

III. RELATOR'S OBJECTIONS

{¶11} In its objections, relator contends that the magistrate erred by concluding that the commission had some evidence on which it could rely to grant TTD compensation for the period of May 5, 2009 through July 10, 2010. Specifically, relator contends that the commission should not have relied on medical evidence submitted by Dr. Steadman because there was an 11-month gap in treatment and little explanation or analysis to support his conclusions. Relator also contends that Dr. Steadman's opinion is equivocal in that he essentially finds that claimant had reached maximum medical improvement, but nevertheless certified a period of TTD compensation. Relator made these same arguments to the magistrate, and we agree with the magistrate that relator essentially asks us to reweigh the evidence before the commission. We agree with the magistrate's analysis and conclusions concerning relator's arguments and the evidence submitted by Dr. Steadman. Accordingly, we overrule relator's objections.

IV. CONCLUSION

{¶12} Based on our independent review, we overrule the objections of claimant and relator. We adopt the magistrate's decision, including the findings of fact and conclusions of law contained in it, as our own. We grant a writ of mandamus ordering the commission to vacate that portion of the March 18, 2010 order that finds claimant is entitled to TTD compensation for the following periods: (1) August 22, 2007 through February 25, 2008; (2) March 1 through June 9, 2008; and (3) August 12, 2008 through May 4, 2009. We deny relator's remaining requests.

Objections overruled; writ of mandamus granted.

BRYANT, P.J., and SADLER, J., concur.

A P P E N D I X

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO TENTH APPELLATE DISTRICT

State of Ohio ex rel. Cleveland Browns Football Company, LLC, Relator, v. Industrial Commission of Ohio et al., Respondents.

No. 10AP-564

(REGULAR CALENDAR)

MAGISTRATE ' S DECISION

Rendered on July 28, 2011

Scheuer Mackin & Breslin LLC, J. Kent Breslin and Robert S. Corker, for relator.

Michael DeWine, Attorney General, and John R. Smart, for respondent ...


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