Criminal Injuries Compensation Bd. v. Gould

Citation273 Md. 486,331 A.2d 55
Decision Date16 January 1975
Docket NumberNo. 2,2
CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Henry J. Frankel, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baltimore (Francis B. Burch, Atty. Gen., and Harry A. E. Taylor, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baltimore, on the brief), for appellant

William C. Miller, Rockville (Miller, Miller, Steinberg & Brisker, Rockville, on the brief), for appellee.



The appellee, Joseph D. Gould (Gould), a sixty-three-year-old resident of the District of Columbia and a self-employed cab driver, was abducted at gun point while operating his taxi in the District on April 11, 1970; driven to Clinton, in Prince George's County, he was there robbed and shot-both in the neck and the back of his head. He spent more than five months hospitalized as a result of his wounds. Thereafter he filed a claim with the appellant, Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (Board), as an 'innocent victim' of crime, for an award allowable under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act (Maryland Code (1957, 1973 Repl.Vol.) Art. 26A, §§ 1-17). When the Board on June 14, 1972 finally disallowed his claim he appealed to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County which vacated the Board's decision and remanded the claim for further consideration.

The Board in urging us to overturn that decision contends that under the provisions of Art. 26A, § 10(a), the decision was not subject to any judicial review by the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.

Gould leased his taxi at a weekly rate from the Yellow Cab Company of D. C., Inc. (Company) which repaired and mechanically maintained the vehicle. Although he was free to work the days and hours of his choice, he was required to When Gould's claim came before a single member of the Board (Art. 26A, § 8) it was decided-without a hearing-that he was a self-employed cab driver, was the 'innocent victim' of a crime and had sustained serious financial hardship (Art. 26A, § 12), but that 'the injury was inflicted by a third person in the course of the claimant's employment and that he was in fact an employee . . . covered by the Workmen's Compensation Law of Maryland and for D. C. and must exhaust his remedies before either of those agencies before this Commission (Board) can lawfully make an award. . . .' His claim was placed in an 'abated status.'

inform the Company daily concerning his use of the cab at the end of each shift he worked. Approval from the Company was required for 'time off' and his relationship could be terminated 'for cause.' Gould filed United States income tax returns for 1967, 1968 and 1969 as a self-employed person; he made no report of his earnings to the Company and received no compensation from it; Gould, as other drivers similarly situated, was not included within Yellow Cab's casualty or workmen's compensation policies. He received no benefits of any kind from the Company after he was victimized by the crime.

In order to overcome this 'abatement' Gould filed a claim with the District of Columbia Bureau of Employees' Compensation (Bureau). Subsequent thereto both the Bureau 1 and the Company 2 wrote the Board, advising that Gould was self-employed, not an employee of the Company In his further efforts to satisfy the objection raised by the Board, Gould next filed a claim with the Workmen's Compensation Commission of Maryland (Commission). When the case came before the Commission at a hearing on November 8, 1971, counsel for Gould stipulated as to those facts which concerned Gould's self-employment status. Upon the stipulation the Commission found that at the time Gould was shot he was an 'independent contractor,' that the Uninsured Employers' Fund was not involved and disllowed his claim for compensation benefits.

and was not entitled to nor did he receive any benefits as a result of his 'misfortunate accident.' The Bureau (an adjunct of the Department of Labor) rejected Gould's claim for compensation benefits on March 24, 1971. 3

After having unsuccessfully attempted to claim workmen's compensation benefits in both the District of Columbia and Maryland, Gould's claim was reconsidered by the Board (again by the same single member). The Board's resistance persisted however, this time ruling that the stipulation entered into at the Commission hearing, that he was 'not an employee in the involved instance constitutes a deliberate lack of cooperation on his part with both the spirit and the letter of our decision of February 10th, 1971.' The Board further noted 'it most inappropriate that public monies should be spent to compensate a claimant for injuries received while employed and thereby eligible for other benefits.' The claim was again disallowed. 4

Gould, under the provisions of Art. 26A, § 9(a), then applied 'for consideration of the decision by the full Board.' The Board, after a hearing, affirmed the action taken by its single member, holding that although the evidence established that Gould drove the cab on a rental basis, received no salary, was not subject to workmen's compensation coverage and filed income tax returns for the 'profit and loss from a business' and nonetheless concluded:

'This case is one of several in recent months where companies have attempted to use State funds by way of this program to protect their alleged independent contractors in lieu of workmen's compensation insurance. By calling the given individual an independent contractor, these companies have to date successfully avoided the expense and exposure of Workmen's Compensation claims. The various times we have ordered the issue to be determined before a Workmen's Compensation Commission has resulted in stipulations between representatives of the employer and claimant that he is in fact an independent contractor. This results in said commission being locked into a finding that the claimant is an independent contractor without the issue ever being fully litigated or heard. We find this practice to be reprehensible and an unfair burden on the State.

'Accordingly, we find under the laws of the State of Maryland as enunciated in Article 101 Section 67, and the cases annotated thereunder, that the claimant is an employee and/or servant; and not an When Gould's appeal came before the Circuit Court the trial judge (Cahoon, J.) held that Art. 26A, § 10, prohibiting judicial review, was 'unconstitutional and void,' in conflict with the holdings in Heaps v. Cobb, 185 Md. 372, 379, 45 A.2d 73, 76 (1945), and was a 'legislative intrusion into inherent powers of the court.' It was further held that the Board was an 'agency' within the scope of the Administrative Procedure Act (Code (1957, 1971 Repl.Vol.) Art. 41, § 244 ff.); and that Gould's appeal was properly before the court within the provisions of Art. 41, § 255(a). In remanding the case for further consideration the trial court concluded that the Board had exceeded its statutory authority and jurisdiction in undertaking to redetermine the claimant's eligibility for workmen's compensation benefits and that the Board, in finding that the claimant 'had not fully cooperated with all law enforcement agencies,' had made an unduly strained construction of Art. 29A, § 12(a), in applying it to proceedings before the Board itself as an adjudicatory body.

independent contractor. Therefore, the liability for his injuries must by operation of law, be that of the employer and/or master. Commenting further, we have previously attempted to avoid deciding issues such as the instant case in order not to judge matters usually best left to the powers and jurisdiction of a sister agency. However, in the protection of the State and those citizens eligible for this program, we can no longer permit employers to escape their exposure from the master-servant relationship by referring those injured to this Board, as a substitute therefor.' (Emphasis supplied.)


Article 41, § 255(a), enacted by Ch. 94 of the Acts of 1957, of the Administrative Procedure Act permits a judicial review to any party 'aggrieved by a final decision in a contested case.' The section is captioned 'Judicial Review.' A 'contested case' is defined in § 244(c) as a proceeding 'before an agency in which the legal rights, duties, or privileges of specific parties are required by law or constitutional right to be determined after an agency hearing.' (Emphasis supplied.)

The statute here in question, enacted by Ch. 455 of the Acts of 1968, repealed and re-enacted with amendments by Ch. 401, Acts of 1970, and codified as Art. 26A, § 10(a), reads as follows:

'Within thirty days after receipt of the copy of the report containing the final decision of the Board, the Attorney General may, if in his judgment or in the judgment of the Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services the award is improper, commence a proceeding in the circuit court of the county or the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City, as the case may be, to review the decision of the Board. Any such proceeding shall be heard in a summary manner and shall have precedence over all other civil cases in such court. The court may, however, take additional testimony, if it so desires. There shall be no other judicial review of any decision made or action taken by the Board, by a member of the Board or by the secretary of the Board with respect to any claim.' (Emphasis supplied.) 5

Although statutes relating to remedies and procedure as a general rule are to be liberally construed with a view toward the effective administration of justice, they are not to be given such a construction as will defeat or frustrate the legislative intention. Commercial Credit Corp. v. Schuck, 151 Md. 367, 134 A. 349 (1926).

When two statutes relate to the same general subject matter-such as here where Art. 41, § 255(a) and Art. 26A, § 10(a) both relate to the right of judicial review of a decision of an...

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