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Ortega v. Indust. Claim Appeals Office, 207 P.3d 895, (Colo. App. 2009)

Court of Appeals of Colorado

Mr. Simon is always willing to go the extra mile to fight for the rights and compensation his clients deserve. This tenacity was on display when Mr. Robert Ortega hired Mr. Simon. 

At an administrative hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), Mr. Simon moved for a continuance so that an essential physician report that obtained a week before the hearing could be timely entered. The administrative law judge, strictly and unnecessarily, denied Mr. Simon’s continuance on the ground that C.R.S. 8-43-210 required reports to be submitted twenty days before the administrative hearing to be timely. The ALJ then went on to deny the entrance of the physician report at the hearing, and ultimately denied benefits for Mr. Ortega.

Mr. Simon appealed the decision to the Industrial Claim Appeals Office (the Panel) to explain that the physician report was not in his possession before the deadline, and so could not have been admitted. Further, Mr. Simon asserted that the ALJ abused its power in denying the continuance and violated Mr. Ortega’s due process rights by excluding the physician report. The Panel affirmed the decision of the ALJ.

Unfazed, Mr. Simon appealed the decision of the Panel to the Court of Appeals of Colorado. The Court of Appeals found that the ALJ’s strict interpretation of the twenty day rule was unwarranted. However, the Court of Appeals ruling that the ALJ’s denials of the continuance and physician report were not abuses of discretion, and the denial of Mr. Ortega’s benefits were upheld. Incredibly, even though a vital piece of evidence was denied entry into the administrative hearing and its denial was ruled by the Court of Appeals as unwarranted, the Court of Appeals found that the ALJ’s decision did not violate Mr. Ortega’s due process rights.

Though the case did not turn in the client’s favor, Mr. Simon took every step within his reach to fight for Mr. Ortega’s worker compensation benefits. Due to the determination to continue to appeal the unfair decisions directed to Mr. Ortega, Mr. Simon set a new standard for a more relaxed twenty day admission rule, which continues to benefit workers compensation beneficiaries today.