McKee v. Alaska Functional Fitness, LLC, 021319 AKSC, S-16954

Docket Nº:S-16954
Party Name:CHARLES McKEE, Appellant, v. ALASKA FUNCTIONAL FITNESS, LLC and OHIO CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellees.
Attorney:Charles McKee, pro se, Anchorage, Appellant. Rebecca Holdiman Miller, Holmes Weddle & Barcott, P.C., Anchorage, for Appellees.
Judge Panel:Before: Bolger, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and Carney, Justices.
Case Date:February 13, 2019
Court:Supreme Court of Alaska
 
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CHARLES McKEE, Appellant,

v.

ALASKA FUNCTIONAL FITNESS, LLC and OHIO CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellees.

No. S-16954

Supreme Court of Alaska

February 13, 2019

UNPUBLISHED See Alaska Appellate Rule 214(d).

Appeal from the Alaska Workers' Compensation Appeals Commission. Nos. 17-006, 1712

Appearances:

Charles McKee, pro se, Anchorage, Appellant.

Rebecca Holdiman Miller, Holmes Weddle & Barcott, P.C., Anchorage, for Appellees.

Before: Bolger, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and Carney, Justices.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT [*]

I. INTRODUCTION

An injured worker assisted by a nonattorney representative entered into a partial settlement of his workers' compensation claim. The settlement did not include medical benefits, leaving open the possibility of a future settlement related to them. Shortly after the Alaska Workers' Compensation Board approved the partial settlement the worker tried to set it aside, claiming he had misunderstood it and was under duress when he signed it. He later argued that the parties had in fact reached an agreement about the medical benefits. The Board rejected the worker's attempts to set aside the partial settlement or to enforce the putative medical benefits agreement. The Alaska Workers' Compensation Appeals Commission affirmed the Board's decision. We affirm the Commission's decision.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Charles McKee slipped and fell while cleaning shower stalls at Alaska Functional Fitness, LLC, where he worked part-time as a janitor in late December 2014. He did not immediately report the injury and continued working until mid-January 2015. He initially sought treatment with a chiropractor, who returned McKee to work with no restriction in early February.

McKee filed two written workers' compensation claims several weeks apart. A nonattorney representative represented McKee at the time a hearing was scheduled on his claims.1 Rather than litigate, McKee and his employer mediated and reached a partial settlement.

The parties memorialized their agreement in a partial compromise and release agreement (C&R) on October 21, 2015. McKee initialed every page and signed the document in front of a notary. The partial C&R settled many issues leaving open only future medical benefits. In the agreement, McKee said he would give recommendations about continuing medical care to Alaska Functional Fitness so that it could "obtain a Medicare Set-Aside proposal so a medical settlement can be pursued."2

The Board approved the partial C&R on October 27, 2015. Alaska Functional Fitness paid the amounts agreed to in the partial C&R, and McKee cashed the checks. But a few days after the partial C&R was approved, McKee asked the Board to set it aside, alleging he had been "coerced into signing without having full disclosure." McKee alleged the parties had settled medical benefits, making two related arguments about it. He asserted that during the mediation the parties had in fact reached an oral agreement that Alaska Functional Fitness would pay him $ 113, 000 to settle his medical claims but that agreement had not been incorporated into the written C&R.3 He said he had signed the last page of the partial C&R, which included his notarized signature, before the rest of the settlement was written. He also contended that he later made a written offer to Alaska Functional Fitness to settle his claims for this amount and that a binding contract had been formed when Alaska Functional Fitness...

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