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Cochran Industries VA v. Meadows

Court of Appeals of Virginia

April 1, 2014

COCHRAN INDUSTRIES VA AND BITUMINOUS CASUALTY CORPORATION
v.
TIMOTHY M. MEADOWS

FROM THE VIRGINIA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION.

Ramesh Murthy (Penn, Stuart & Eskridge, on brief), for appellants.

Paul L. Phipps (Mingkwan Emme Collins; Lee and Phipps, P.C., on brief), for appellee.

Amicus Curiae: Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (W. David Falcon; ChasenBoscolo, on brief), for appellee.

Present: Humphreys, Beales and Huff Judges.

OPINION

Page 490

[63 Va.App. 220] GLEN A. HUFF, JUDGE.

Cochran Industries VA and Bituminous Casualty Corporation (collectively " appellant" ) appeal a decision of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission (" commission" ) ruling that Timothy M. Meadows (" claimant" ) timely filed a claim for compensation. On appeal, appellant contends that the commission erred in: 1) accepting a filing seeking no relief as a viable, timely claim under Code § 65.2-601; and 2) utilizing the doctrine of imposition, created by its actions in contravention with the Act, to the detriment of appellant. For the following reasons, this Court affirms the commission's decision.

I. BACKGROUND

On appeal from the commission, " we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party." R.G. Moore Bldg. Corp. v. Mullins, 10 Va.App. 211, 212, 390 S.E.2d 788, 788, 6 Va. Law Rep. 1997 (1990). If supported by credible evidence, the commission's factual findings are " binding on appeal," Tomes v. James City Fire, 39 Va.App. 424, 430, 573 S.E.2d 312, 315 (2002), " even though there is evidence in the record to support a contrary finding," Morris v. Badger Powhatan/Figgie Int'l, Inc., 3 Va.App. 276, 279, 348 S.E.2d 876, 877, 3 Va. Law Rep. 856 (1986). In addition, the commission's " conclusions upon conflicting inferences, legitimately drawn from proven facts, are equally binding on appeal." [63 Va.App. 221] Watkins v. Halco Eng'g, Inc., 225 Va. 97, 101, 300 S.E.2d 761, 763 (1983). So viewed, the evidence is as follows.

On July 9, 2010, claimant was working as a manager for appellant when a concrete cinder block fell on and crushed his right hand. Claimant filed a Claim for Benefits form[1] with the commission on August 23, 2010 with the assistance of Charlotte Cochran (" Cochran" ), an employee who handles appellant's insurance matters. Claimant, however, only completed Part A of the Claim for Benefits form. Part B of the form, which is titled " PART B -- REQUEST FOR BENEFITS (OPTIONAL)," was left blank because claimant did not know what benefits would be needed. After the form was filed, the commission issued claimant a jurisdiction claim number -- VA00000301614 -- and an " Acknowledged Protective Filing" statement dated August 26, 2010. Claimant later called the commission multiple times and asked if any other paperwork was needed for his claim. He was told that he had completed everything he needed to do.

Claimant was compensated for all of his medical treatment for the first two years after the injury. In fact, the parties stipulated that claimant's injury was compensable and that all received medical treatment for claimant's hand was " reasonable, necessary and causally related to the injur[y] . . . ." Then, on May 21, 2012, Dr. Morgan Lorio (" Lorio" ), one of claimant's treating physicians, submitted a " Surgery Planning" form to appellant recommending surgical intervention

Page 491

for claimant's " right index and middle intrinsic release." Three months later, in August 2012, claimant was informed that the proposed surgery had been denied due to the expiration of the statute of limitations on his claim. Specifically, appellant declined to pay for the proposed surgery on the ground that [63 Va.App. 222] claimant's initial Claim for Benefits form did not constitute a " claim," under Code § 65.2-601,[2] because the form did not indicate what benefits claimant was ...


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