The State ex rel. Thomas H. Beyer, Relator,
Autoneum North America, Inc. et al., Respondents.
MANDAMUS ON OBJECTION TO THE MAGISTRATE'S DECISION
Spitler & Williams-Young Co., L.PA., William R. Menacher,
and Steven M. Spitler, for relator.
Michael DeWine, Attorney General, and Patsy A. Thomas, for
respondent Industrial Commission of Ohio.
1} Relator, Thomas H. Beyer, initiated this original
action requesting that this court issue a writ of mandamus
ordering respondent, Industrial Commission of Ohio
("commission"), to vacate the October 21, 2015
order of its staff hearing officer ("SHO") that
denied relator's December 11, 2012 motion for R.C.
4123.57(B) compensation for the alleged permanent partial
loss of sight of his right eye, and to enter an order
awarding compensation for 35 percent loss of uncorrected
vision in the right eye.
2} This matter was referred to a magistrate of this
court pursuant to Civ.R. 53(C) and LocR. 13(M) of the Tenth
District Court of Appeals. The magistrate issued the appended
decision, including findings of fact and conclusions of law.
The magistrate concluded that Beyer failed to meet his burden
before the commission of demonstrating that his industrial
injury is the proximate cause of his alleged 35 percent loss
of vision in his right eye. Thus, the magistrate recommends
this court deny Beyer's request for a writ of mandamus.
3} Beyer has filed an objection to the
magistrate's decision. In his sole objection, Beyer
asserts the magistrate erred in finding that there was
insufficient medical evidence for the commission to find that
he sustained 35 percent vision loss in his right eye due to
his industrial injury. He argues that he met his burden of
demonstrating his entitlement to the requested compensation
for permanent partial loss of vision. For the following
reasons, we agree.
4} R.C. 4123.57(B) authorizes compensation for the
loss of a claimant's vision. "For the loss of the
sight of an eye, " a claimant is entitled to receive 125
weeks of compensation. "For the permanent partial loss
of sight of an eye, " a claimant is entitled to
"the portion of one hundred twenty-five weeks as the
administrator in each case determines, based upon the
percentage of vision actually lost as a result of the
injury." R.C. 4123.57(B). In no case, however,
"shall an award of compensation be made for less than
twenty-five per cent loss of uncorrected vision." R.C.
4123.57(B). " 'Loss of uncorrected vision' means
the percentage of vision actually lost as a result of the
injury or occupational disease." R.C. 4123.57(B). Under
this standard, "correction enhances vision but does not
eliminate the vision loss." State ex rel. La-Z-Boy
Furniture Galleries v. Thomas, 126 Ohio St.3d 134,
2010-Ohio-3215, ¶ 16. Thus, "loss of vision is
determined by the measurement of uncorrected vision following
the injury, but prior to any corrective surgery such as a
lens implant or cornea transplant." State ex rel.
Baker v. Coast to Coast Manpower, L.L.C., 129 Ohio St.3d
138, 2011-Ohio-2721, ¶ 20 (plurality), citing
La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries at ¶ 16; State
ex. rel. Gen. Elec. Corp. v. Indus. Comm., 103 Ohio
St.3d 420, 2004-Ohio-5585, ¶ 16.
5} Additionally, the claimant has the burden of
persuading "the commission that there is a proximate
causal relationship between his or her work-connected
injuries and disability, and to produce medical evidence to
this effect." State ex rel. Mid-Ohio Wood Prods. v.
Indus. Comm., 10th Dist. No. 07AP-478, 2008-Ohio-2453,
¶ 17, citing State ex rel. Quarto Mining
Co. v. Foreman, 79 Ohio St.3d 78, 83 (1997).
"Without medical evidence, the commission has no basis
to determine the cause of a medical condition -- it simply
does not have the expertise." State ex rel. Yellow
Freight Sys. v. Indus. Comm., 81 Ohio St.3d 56, 58
6} Thus, as the magistrate correctly noted, Beyer
had the burden of producing medical evidence demonstrating
that his industrial injury is the proximate cause of his
alleged 35 percent loss of vision in his right eye. To meet
this burden, Beyer needed to submit medical evidence of his
pre-injury uncorrected vision, medical evidence of his
post-injury uncorrected vision, and medical evidence of the
causal connection between his injury and the vision loss. In
support of his request for compensation under R.C.
4123.57(B), Beyer submitted April 2008 and December 2011
records from Optiview and a July 2012 report of
ophthalmologist James G. Ravin, M.D. The April 2008 Optiview
record indicates that ophthalmologist William G. Martin,
M.D., determined Beyer's bilateral uncorrected visual
acuity to be 20/20 at that time. The November 2011 Optiview
record indicates that Mahdi Basha, D.O., determined that
Beyer had developed bilateral cataracts and had an
uncorrected visual acuity of 20/100 in the right eye and
20/50 in the left eye. Dr. Basha performed cataract surgery
on both of Beyer's eyes in December 2011. In July 2012,
Dr. Ravin opined that Beyer's long-term use of
prednisone, due to his allowed condition of bilateral silica
pneumoconiosis, caused the development of his cataracts. On
August 1, 2012, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation,
relying on Dr. Ravin's report, mailed an order
additionally allowing the claim for bilateral cataracts.
7} In view of the undisputed medical evidence in the
record, Beyer had a pre-injury uncorrected visual acuity of
20/20 in his right eye, and a post-injury uncorrected visual
acuity of 20/100 in that eye. The undisputed medical evidence
further demonstrated that the vision loss was caused by
Beyer's industrial injury. The record before the
commission also contained a copy of Table 12-2, captioned
"Impairment of Visual Acuity, " from the American
Medical Association Guides to Evaluation of Permanent
Impairment, Fifth Edition ("AMA Guides"). (Joint
Stipulation of Evidence at 20958-A89.) This table outlines
visual acuity impairment ratings, as a percentage of ability
lost, in relation to normal visual acuity of 20/20. It
indicates that visual acuity of 20/100 reflects a visual
acuity impairment rating of 35 percent in relation to 20/20
8} Beyer argues that the Supreme Court of Ohio's
decision in State ex rel. Spangler Candy Co. v. Indus.
Comm., 36 Ohio St.3d 231 (1988), is instructive as to
the issue of what evidence is necessary for a claimant to
prove a partial loss of vision. We agree. In
Spangler, the court found it was not an abuse of
discretion for the commission to determine that, for the
purpose of R.C. 4123.57(B), "the percentage of permanent
partial loss of sight of an eye is calculated by subtracting
the amount of vision remaining from the amount of vision
existing prior to the injury and taking the percentage of the
loss of sight as the calculation of actual vision loss."
Id. at 235. In Spangler, the pre-injury and
post-injury visual ability was already presented by a
percentage by the medical evidence. As such, determining loss
of vision was based on the simple calculation described
above. However, when a claimant's visual acuity is
presented by the medical evidence in a different format, the
calculation is not the same and requires a slightly different
9} In State ex rel. Lay-Z-Boy Furniture
Galleries v. Thomas, 10th Dist. No. 08AP-827,
2009-Ohio-4546, this court noted that a percentage loss of
vision cannot be calculated by simply numerically comparing
results of distance eye testing. For example, it would be
improper to calculate the percent of vision loss by
subtracting the 50 in 20/50 from the 200 in 20/200, to
conclude that the percent loss of vision was 75 percent
because that number, 150, is 75 percent of 200. Id.
at ¶ 58. Even so, this court in Lay-Z-Boy Furniture
Galleries also noted that, while such a calculation
would be improper, "[c]entral visual acuity for distance
as noted by a Snellen fraction can be easily converted to a
percent loss of central vision by reference to tables."
Id. at ¶ 59, citing 6A Lawyers' Medical
Cyclopedia (5th Ed., LexisNexis 2006), at Section 39.21. This
is what occurred here. A commission district hearing officer
applied the information contained in Table 12-2 of the AMA
Guides to the Snellen fractions that reflected Beyer's
pre-injury and post-injury visual acuity, to conclude that
Beyer had lost 35 percent of his actual vision in his right
eye. The SHO and the magistrate erroneously found that Beyer
needed to submit additional medical evidence to establish the
percentage of vision loss for his right eye.
10} For these reasons, we sustain Beyer's sole
objection to the magistrate's decision. Based on our
review of the record, we find the magistrate has properly
discerned the pertinent facts. However, the magistrate erred
in applying the law to those facts. Therefore, we adopt the
magistrate's findings of fact but not his conclusions of
law. We grant a writ of mandamus ordering the commission to
vacate the order of its SHO denying Beyer's request for
R.C. 4123.57(B) compensation for the alleged permanent
partial loss of sight of his right eye, and to enter an order
awarding compensation for 35 percent loss of uncorrected
vision in that eye.
sustained; writ of mandamus granted.
and DORRIAN, JJ., concur.
Rendered on November 28, 2017
KENNETH W. MACKE, MAGISTRATE JUDGE
11} In this original action, relator, Thomas H.
Beyer, requests a writ of mandamus ordering respondent
Industrial Commission of Ohio ("commission") to
vacate the October 21, 2015 order of its staff hearing
officer ("SHO") that denied relator's December
11, 2012 motion for R.C. 4123.57(B) compensation for the
alleged permanent partial loss of sight of his right eye, and
to enter an order awarding compensation for 35 percent loss
of uncorrected vision in the right eye.
12} 1. On August 3, 2007, relator filed an
application for workers' compensation benefits. On his
application, relator alleged that he acquired an occupational
disease while employed with respondent Autoneum North
America, Inc., a state-fund employer.
13} 2. On October 11, 2007, the Ohio Bureau of
Workers' Compensation ("bureau") mailed an
order allowing the industrial claim (No. 06-893318) for
bilateral silica pneumoconiosis.
14} 3. The employer administratively appealed the
October 11, 2007 order of the bureau.
15} 4. Following a January 3, 2008 hearing, a
district hearing officer ("DHO") issued an order
affirming the bureau's order.
16} 5. The employer administratively appealed the
DHO's order of January 3, 2008.
17} 6. Following a February 14, 2008 hearing, an SHO
issued an order noting that the employer had dismissed its
appeal. Therefore, the findings of the DHO's order remain
in full force and effect.
18} 7. On December 7, 2011, relator underwent
cataract surgery to his right eye. The surgery was performed
by Mahdi Basha, D.O.
19} 8. On December 21, 2011, relator underwent
cataract surgery to his left eye. That surgery was also
performed by Dr. Basha.
20} 9. On July 2, 2012, relator moved that his
industrial claim be additionally allowed for bilateral
21} 10. Relator's July 2, 2012 motion prompted
the bureau to request that a medical file review be prepared
by ophthalmologist James G. Ravin, M.D. In his three-page