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Town & Country Hosp., LP v. Davis

Court of Appeals of Virginia

April 21, 2015

TOWN & COUNTRY HOSPITAL, LP
v.
REGINALD DAVIS

FROM THE VIRGINIA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION.

John T. Cornett, Jr. (Lynch & Cornett, P.C., on brief), for appellant.

W. David Falcon, Jr. (Chasen & Boscolo, P.C., on brief), for appellee.

Present: Judges Alston, Chafin and O'Brien. OPINION BY JUDGE ROSSIE D. ALSTON, JR.

OPINION

Page 791

[64 Va.App. 659] ROSSIE D. ALSTON, JR., JUDGE

Town & Country Hospital, LP (" appellant" ) appeals a decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission (the " commission" ). Appellant alleges that the deputy commissioner erred in awarding attorney's fees to counsel for Reginald Davis (" claimant" ) from the amount paid for his medical care at appellant's medical facility. Appellant argues that the deputy commissioner's award violated due process and that the commission erred in refusing to set aside the award. Appellant also contends that the commission erred in finding it had jurisdiction to impose a fee against appellant pursuant to Code § 65.2-714. We find no error and affirm the commission's decision.

[64 Va.App. 660] I. Background

On appeal, this Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party below. See R.G. Moore Bldg. Corp. v. Mullins, 10 Va.App. 211, 212, 390 S.E.2d 788, 788, 6 Va. Law Rep. 1997 (1990). So viewed, the evidence established that in November 2011, claimant sustained a compensable injury by accident to his right knee. The commission awarded medical benefits for the injury against claimant's employer and its insurance carrier. In late 2012, claimant filed a claim seeking authorization for a right knee total arthroplasty revision surgery. Employer and insurer initially denied the claim for surgery, stating that the injury requiring surgery was not causally related to or a result of the 2011 compensable injury.

In February 2013, while his claim was pending, claimant underwent a right total knee arthroplasty revision at appellant's Tampa, Florida hospital. The hospital billed

Page 792

insurer's claims' administrator $119,496.33 for services related to claimant's surgery. Before a scheduled evidentiary hearing on claimant's request for authorization and compensation for his knee surgery, employer and insurer abandoned their defenses and executed a stipulated order authorizing claimant's knee surgery. The commission approved the agreed order on March 15, 2013. Subsequently, insurer paid appellant $80,217.45.

On September 5, 2013, claimant's attorney sent appellant a request for payment of attorney's fees pursuant to Code § 65.2-714, seeking $20,054 from appellant.[1] The letter was [64 Va.App. 661] sent by facsimile to Debbie Wisler and listed appellant's Tampa, Florida address. This was appellant's last known address.[2] When claimant's attorney received no response to his request from appellant, on October 20, 2013, he filed a claim for his Code § 65.2-714 attorney's fees with the commission. Claimant's attorney sent a copy of his claim to appellant's Tampa, Florida address. On October 24, 2013, the commission issued a notice of an on-the-record hearing permitting each party to file a statement of position and documentary evidence by November 13, 2013. Responsive position statements were to be filed by November 23, 2013. Copies of the notice were mailed to claimant, his attorney, claimant's employer, the insurance carrier and claims administrator, the claims administrator's attorney, and appellant at its Tampa, Florida address. On October 31, 2013, and November 4, 2013, respectively, the deputy commissioner sent letters to appellant and claimant's counsel suggesting alternate dispute resolution and inquiring if the parties would be open to mediation. Both letters were again sent to appellant's Tampa, Florida address.

Claimant's attorney filed his position statement and provided supporting documentation on November 13, 2013. On November 18, 2013, claimant's attorney faxed a copy of his position statement and supporting documentation, which included a copy of the original claim and other correspondence, to Christopher Gena, a project manager at the company to which appellant ...


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