Bradley Glidewell v. Scien-Turf-Ic Sod Farms, W.C. No. 4-800-991 (2011).
Industrial Claim Appeals Office
No matter the extent of difficulties surrounding a client’s claim, Mr. Simon will pursue every case to the fullest extent possible. This was certainly the situation presented to Mr. Simon in the following fact pattern.
On May 24, 2009, Mr. Glidewell was driving a tractor while employed by Scien-Turf-Ic farms when he was struck by lightning. Mr. Glidewell sustained injuries to his left hand and back due to the lightning strike, but continued working until the pain became too great. Eventually, Mr. Glidewell sought medical attention on June 26, 2009.
Regardless of the gap in time between Mr. Glidewell’s injury and treatment, and the atypical type of injury Mr. Glidewell sustained from the lightning strike, Mr. Simon agreed to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. Mr. Simon presented Mr. Glidewell’s case to the administrative law judge (ALJ) for workers compensation to prove that Mr. Glidewell sustained compensable injuries during his course of employment.
However, the ALJ ruled against Mr. Glidewell. The ALJ pointed to the gap in time between the injury and treatment, as well as an unfavorable doctor report, as reasoning for his refusal to grant Mr. Glidewell a compensable injury from the lightning strike.
Still in pursuit of the claim, Mr. Simon appealed the decision of the ALJ to the Industrial Claim Appeals Office (the Panel). To preface the difficulty of an appeal in workers’ compensation claims, there are several key concepts to understand. First, the ALJ is given extremely broad discretion to make finds of fact and inferences, compare the relative worth of all testimonies, and ultimately make a final binding order for the case. City of Aurora v. Vaughn, 824 P.2d 825 (Colo. App. 1991). Second, due to this large discretion, the Panel will only overturn an ALJ for an abuse of discretion when the record reveals abuse rising to a level that exceeds the bounds of reason or if there was fraud. Renz v. Larimer County School District Poudre R-1, 924 P.2d 1177 (Colo. App. 1996); Louisiana Pacific Corp. v. Smith, 881 P.2d 456 (Colo. App. 1994). However, the Panel will uphold an ALJ’s decision if supported by substantial evidence in the record, even if an equally plausible decision could have been reached. Dover Elevator Co. v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 961 P.2d 1141 (Colo. App. 1998).
The Panel found that the record of information supported the conclusion of the ALJ and upheld the ALJ’s denial of a compensable injury to Mr. Glidewell.
The circumstances presented by this case made it difficult to obtain a fundable outcome. Even in light of the difficulty of proving injury in the case and the appellate, Mr. Simon still took every possible step to help Mr. Glidewell make his claim.