THE VIRGINIA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION
M. Sweeny (Peter M. Sweeny, P.C., on briefs), for appellant.
Michael N. Salveson (Charles F. Trowbridge; Littler
Mendelson, P.C., on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Alston, O'Brien and Senior Judge Clements
Argued at Alexandria, Virginia.
GRACE O'BRIEN JUDGE.
Smith-Adams ("claimant") appeals the decision of
the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission ("the
Commission"). Claimant asserts that the Commission erred
by enforcing a termination agreement and denying her request
for benefits and penalties pursuant to a June 2005 award.
Finding no error, we affirm the Commission's ruling.
who was employed as a guidance counselor by Fairfax County
Public Schools ("the employer"), was injured in a
compensable car accident on February 23, 2005. In an award
entered June 17, 2005, the employer agreed to pay temporary
total disability benefits during incapacity and lifetime
medical benefits. On January 9, 2006, claimant applied for a
hearing because the employer refused to pay for medical
equipment prescribed by claimant's doctor. The hearing
was scheduled for June.
parties filed two other documents with the Commission on
January 9. On the first form, entitled "Supplemental
Agreement to Pay Varying Temporary Partial Benefits, "
the parties agreed to modify the outstanding award to an
award for temporary partial disability benefits, paid at
varying rates from May 2005 until August 2005. The second
document, labeled "Termination of Wage Loss Award,
" memorialized the parties' agreement to terminate
the outstanding award effective August 8, 2005 because
claimant was able to return to her pre-injury work on August
9, 2005. Both agreements were fully endorsed by the parties
and were filed and stamped "received" by the
Commission on January 12, 2006.
the pending claim for the medical equipment, the Commission
failed to act on the two agreement forms filed by the
parties, although the forms were unrelated to the claim. On
June 9, 2006, the parties advised the Commission that they
had reached an agreement regarding payment for the medical
equipment. They subsequently submitted a stipulated order
that was approved and signed by a deputy commissioner on July
7, 2006. However, the Commission took no action on the two
agreement forms that were submitted in January.
April 3, 2007, the Commission sent the parties notice that
there was an outstanding award in the case and "[i]f
payments have ceased, an executed Termination of Wage Loss
Award or an Employer's Application for Hearing must be
filed to end the award." The Commission sent the same
notice on October 6, 2008. In November 2011, the Commission
advised claimant that she may be entitled to a cost of living
adjustment on her award.
party took any action until October 9, 2013, when claimant
sent notice that she "withdraws her January 4, 2006
offers to enter into a Supplemental Agreement to Pay Varying
Temporary Partial Benefits and Termination of Wage Loss Award
proposed by the employer and insurer on or about November 18,
2005." In response, the employer advised that both
parties signed an agreement to pay temporary partial
disability payments and then terminate the award. The
employer's response also noted that the signed agreements
were sent to the Commission in January 2006.
Commission scheduled the matter for a hearing. At the
hearing, claimant testified that she was injured in an
automobile accident on February 23, 2005 and as a result, she
was unable to work until May 2, 2005. In May, she returned to
work in a reduced capacity and was released to her pre-injury
employment in August 2005. Claimant acknowledged that she
worked for years after that date, first for Fairfax County
Schools, and upon her retirement in 2011, for Loudoun County
Schools. Claimant, who has a Bachelor's and two
Master's degrees, has been employed as a teacher, school
counselor, guidance counselor, curriculum writer, and
substitute teacher. She did not report to the employer that
she returned to work following her retirement. At the time of
the hearing, claimant was again employed by Fairfax County
testified that she missed work due to ongoing medical
problems from the accident and related medical appointments
from 2006 until the present day. However, she also admitted
that she was injured in two other accidents, in October 2005
and May 2008. She acknowledged that she signed the two
agreements that were filed in January of 2006, providing for
payment of partial benefits and subsequently terminating the
wage loss award, and that her signature indicated that she
"agreed with everything" on the documents. She also
admitted that she understood that signing the agreements
meant that her compensation benefits would be terminated and,
in fact, after she returned to work on August 9, 2005, she
never claimed additional wage loss benefits until she brought
the action in October 2013.
the hearing, the deputy commissioner held that the award of
temporary total disability benefits was terminated effective
May 1, 2005, and entered an award for temporary partial
disability benefits from May 2, 2005 through August 8, 2005,
in accordance with the agreement forms submitted by the
parties in January 2006. The deputy commissioner found that
the parties "intended to abide by the fully-signed
agreement forms . . . seeking termination of the outstanding
award upon the claimant's return to work." On
review, the full Commission agreed and held that "the
interests of justice are served by enforcing the [a]greements
into which the parties voluntarily entered." This appeal
Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission erred in
concluding that its refusal to approve proposed agreement
forms in 2006 was a "mistake" warranting the