Del Marr v. Montgomery County, No. 2789, September Term, 2004.

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtSharer
Citation900 A.2d 243,169 Md. App. 187
PartiesPaul DEL MARR v. MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Maryland.
Decision Date05 June 2006
Docket NumberNo. 2789, September Term, 2004.
900 A.2d 243
169 Md. App. 187
Paul DEL MARR
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Maryland.
No. 2789, September Term, 2004.
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.
June 5, 2006.

Page 244

Douglas M. Gross (Chirumbole, Gross & Conrad, P.C. on the brief), Gaithersburg, for appellant.

Wendy B. Karpel (Sharon V. Burrell, Charles W. Thompson, Jr., County Attorney on the brief), Rockville, for appellee.

Argued before SALMON, SHARER and CHARLES E. MOYLAN, JR., (Retired, Specially Assigned) JJ.

SHARER, J.


Appellant, Paul Del Marr, appeals from a decision by the Circuit Court for Montgomery County granting appellee's, Montgomery County's ("County"), motion for summary judgment. The effect of the grant of summary judgment was a partial reversal of an order of the Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission ("Commission") awarding credit to the County, on a weeks-credit rather than dollar-credit format, for compensation benefits paid to appellant.

Appellant raises one question for our review, which, as rephrased, is:1

When a claimant reopens a claim for worsening of condition, and the award is increased from a first-tier injury to a second-tier injury, is credit to the employer to be made on the basis of dollars paid, or the number of weeks for which compensation was paid?

For the reasons discussed herein, we shall affirm the circuit court's judgment.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Since the underlying facts are not at issue in this case, we recount them only

Page 245

briefly. On January 9, 2001, appellant, a master electrician for the Montgomery County Board of Education, suffered a compensable injury to his lower back while lifting a heavy transformer. Appellant filed a claim for benefits with the Commission on January 31, 2001, under the Maryland Workers' Compensation Act ("Act"). See Md.Code, Lab. & Empl. ("L.E.") §§ 9-101 et seq. (1999 Rep. Vol., 2005 Supp.).

On April 18, 2002, the Commission held a hearing on appellant's claim and, on May 2, 2002, issued its first award of benefits based on a finding that appellant had sustained a permanent partial disability.2 The Commission's subsequent awards to appellant and the procedural history of this case, are detailed, infra.

STANDARD of REVIEW

In Stanley v. American Fed'n of State & Local Mun. Employees Local No. 553, 165 Md.App. 1, 13, 884 A.2d 724 (2005), we noted that,

[u]nder Maryland Rule 2-501(f), summary judgment may be granted "if the motion and response show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the party in whose favor judgment is entered is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."

We review a circuit court's order granting summary judgment de novo. We determine whether there is any dispute of material fact, and, if there is none, we then determine whether the court was legally correct in its ruling. As we undertake this review, "`we construe the facts properly before the court, and any reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.'" "`We ordinarily will uphold the grant of summary judgment only on a ground relied on by the trial court.'"

(Internal citations omitted). As well, "[q]uestions of statutory construction and interpretation are questions of law." Marzullo v. Kahl, 135 Md.App. 663, 671, 763 A.2d 1217 (2000). Thus, we review the circuit court's decision de novo.

DISCUSSION

Maryland Workers' Compensation Act

"The [Act] was originally enacted in 1914 to compensate employees for the loss of earning capacity resulting from accidental injury, disease, or death occurring during the course of employment." Philip Elecs. N. Am. v. Wright, 348 Md. 209, 215, 703 A.2d 150 (1997) (citing DeBusk v. Johns Hopkins, 342 Md. 432, 437, 677 A.2d 73 (1996)). Pursuant to L.E. § 9-501, persons accidentally injured at work may be entitled to a variety of benefits from their employers, regardless of fault. See also Mayor & City Council of Balt. City v. Johnson, 156 Md.App. 569, 586, 847 A.2d 1190 (2004), aff'd 387 Md. 1, 874 A.2d 439 (2005). "The Act essentially is remedial, social legislation designed to protect workers and their families from various hardships that result from employment-related injuries." Livering v. Richardson's Rest. & PMA, 374 Md. 566, 574, 823 A.2d 687 (2003). In Johnson, supra, 156 Md.App. at 587-88, 847 A.2d 1190, we noted:

The Act was conceived to protect workers and their families, among others. But, as the Court of Appeals has explained several times, including in Polomski, 344 Md. at 76, 684 A.2d 1338 "[a]lthough the Act's name suggests that

Page 246

it was intended solely for the benefit of employees, the preamble to the 1914 Act, and, indeed, [the Court's] previous holdings, reveal otherwise." The Court has made clear that, "[i]n reality, the Act protects employees, employers, and the public alike."

(Internal citations omitted).

Among the benefits available to employees is monetary compensation for permanent partial disability. See L.E. § 9-625. Section 9-627, the so-called "listed member" provision, specifies the number of weeks of compensation to which a claimant is entitled, depending upon which part of the claimant's body is injured. Appellant's injury fell under the "other cases" category of injuries covered specifically by subsection 9-627(k).3 Under this sub-section, appellant could receive a maximum of 500 weeks of compensation, dependent upon the percentage of his disability. See L.E. § 9-627(k)(3).

Pursuant to L.E. § 9-627(k)(4), compensation is paid "at the rates listed for the period in §§ 9-628 through 9-639[.]" These sections establish a tier structure for determining the actual amount of compensation.

Section 9-628 states, in pertinent part:

(e) On or after January 1, 2000.—Except as provided in subsections (f) and (g) of this section, if a covered employee is awarded compensation for less than 75 weeks in a claim arising from events occurring on or after January 1, 2000, the employer or its insurer shall pay the covered employee compensation that equals one-third of the average weekly wage of the covered employee but does not exceed $114.

Section 9-628 is considered the first tier level.

Section 9-629 is considered the second or middle tier and provides:

Compensation for period equal to or greater than 75 weeks but less than 250 weeks.

If a covered employee is awarded compensation for a period equal to or greater than 75 weeks but less than 250 weeks, the employer or its insurer shall pay the covered employee weekly compensation that equals two-thirds of the average weekly wage of the covered employee but does not exceed one-third of the State average weekly wage.

The third tier, § 9-630, covers serious disabilities and provides, in pertinent part:

Serious disability—Compensation for 250 weeks or more.

(a) In general.—(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, if a covered employee is given an award or a combination of awards resulting from 1 accidental personal injury or occupational

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disease for 250 weeks or more under § 9-627 of this subtitle:

(i) the Commission shall increase the award or awards by one-third the number of weeks in the award or awards, computed to the nearest whole number; and

(ii) the employer or its insurer shall pay the covered employee weekly compensation that equals two-thirds of the average weekly wage of the covered employee, but does not exceed 75% of the State average weekly wage.

(2) An award for disfigurement or mutilation under § 9-627(i) of this subtitle may not be used to make up the 250 weeks under paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(b) More than one concurrent employer.—(1) This subsection applies to the payment of weekly compensation required under subsection (a) of this section if the average weekly wage of a covered employee is computed under § 9-602(1) of this subtitle.

(2) The employer in whose employment the accidental personal injury occurred or the employer's insurer shall pay the covered employee weekly compensation that is based on the weekly wages of the covered employee at the employment in which the covered employee was injured.

(3) Subject to paragraph (4) of this subsection, any additional weekly compensation resulting from computing the average weekly wage based on weekly wages earned by the covered employee in other employment shall be payable in the first instance by the employer in whose employment the employee was injured or the employer's insurer.

(4) Subject to any right of the Subsequent Injury Fund to be impleaded or any right of the Subsequent Injury Fund to defend in a case involving payment from the Subsequent Injury Fund created under Title 10, Subtitle 2 of this article, as allowable under Subtitle 8 of this title, the Subsequent Injury Fund shall reimburse the employer in whose employment the employee was injured or the employer's insured the amount of additional weekly compensation paid by the employer or insurer under paragraph (3) of this subsection.

(c) Relation to other provisions.—(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, § 9-627 of this subtitle applies to covered employees who are covered by this section.

(2) To the extent of any inconsistency, this subsection prevails over § 9-627 of this subtitle.

Notably, L.E. § 9-630(d) provides that upon reopening a claim "[i]f a covered employee receives additional compensation for a disability on a petition to reopen for serious disability, the additional compensation may not increase the amount of compensation previously awarded and paid." (emphasis added) No similar provision, addressing the procedure for an award of additional compensation, upon re-opening a claim, is found in either L.E. §§ 9-628 or 9-629.

Appellant's Injury Calculations

Pursuant to appellant's claim, the Commission made the following series of awards:

Order I—On May 2, 2002, the Commission found that appellant sustained a 20% loss of the use of the body as a result of an injury to the back, 10%...

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11 practice notes
  • Mueller v. People's Counsel, No. 319, September Term, 2006.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 2, 2007
    ...read a statute "so `"that no word, phrase, clause or sentence is rendered surplusage or meaningless,"'" Del Marr v. Montgomery County, 169 Md. App. 187, 207, 900 A.2d 243 (2006) (citations omitted), aff'd, 397 Md. 308, 916 A.2d 1002 (2007), or "superfluous or redundant." Blondell v. Baltimo......
  • Brown v. Brown, No. 1015, Sept. Term, 2008.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 30, 2010
    ...surplusage or meaningless,' " Parker v. State, 193 Md.App. 469, 499, 997 A.2d 912 (2010) (quoting Del Marr v. Montgomery County, 169 Md.App. 187, 207, 900 A.2d 243 (2006), aff'd, 397 Md. 308, 916 A.2d 1002 (2007)), or "superfluous or redundant." Gillespie v. State, 370 Md. 219, 222, 804 A.2......
  • Dixon v. Dept. of Corrections, No. 1107, September Term, 2006.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 5, 2007
    ...read a statute "so `"that no word, phrase, clause or sentence is rendered surplusage or meaningless,"'" Del Marr v. Montgomery County, 169 Md. App. 187, 207, 900 A.2d 243 (2006) (citations omitted), aff'd, 397 Md. 308, 916 A.2d 1002 (2007), or "superfluous or redundant." Blondell v. Baltimo......
  • Parker v. State, No. 2117
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 2, 2010
    ...read a statute “ ‘so that no word, phrase, clause or sentence is rendered surplusage or meaningless,’ ” Del Marr v. Montgomery County, 169 Md.App. 187, 207, 900 A.2d 243 (2006) (citations omitted), aff'd, 397 Md. 308, 916 A.2d 1002 (2007), or “superfluous or redundant.” Gillespie v. State, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Mueller v. People's Counsel, No. 319, September Term, 2006.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 2, 2007
    ...read a statute "so `"that no word, phrase, clause or sentence is rendered surplusage or meaningless,"'" Del Marr v. Montgomery County, 169 Md. App. 187, 207, 900 A.2d 243 (2006) (citations omitted), aff'd, 397 Md. 308, 916 A.2d 1002 (2007), or "superfluous or redundant." Blondell v. Baltimo......
  • Brown v. Brown, No. 1015, Sept. Term, 2008.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 30, 2010
    ...surplusage or meaningless,' " Parker v. State, 193 Md.App. 469, 499, 997 A.2d 912 (2010) (quoting Del Marr v. Montgomery County, 169 Md.App. 187, 207, 900 A.2d 243 (2006), aff'd, 397 Md. 308, 916 A.2d 1002 (2007)), or "superfluous or redundant." Gillespie v. State, 370 Md. 219, 222, 804 A.2......
  • Dixon v. Dept. of Corrections, No. 1107, September Term, 2006.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 5, 2007
    ...read a statute "so `"that no word, phrase, clause or sentence is rendered surplusage or meaningless,"'" Del Marr v. Montgomery County, 169 Md. App. 187, 207, 900 A.2d 243 (2006) (citations omitted), aff'd, 397 Md. 308, 916 A.2d 1002 (2007), or "superfluous or redundant." Blondell v. Baltimo......
  • Parker v. State, No. 2117
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 2, 2010
    ...read a statute “ ‘so that no word, phrase, clause or sentence is rendered surplusage or meaningless,’ ” Del Marr v. Montgomery County, 169 Md.App. 187, 207, 900 A.2d 243 (2006) (citations omitted), aff'd, 397 Md. 308, 916 A.2d 1002 (2007), or “superfluous or redundant.” Gillespie v. State, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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