Prince William County Sch. Bd. v. Rahim, Record No. 1737–10–2.

Docket NºRecord No. 1737–10–2.
Citation269 Ed. Law Rep. 365, 58 Va.App. 493, 711 S.E.2d 241
Case DateJuly 12, 2011
CourtCourt of Appeals of Virginia

58 Va.App. 493
711 S.E.2d 241
269 Ed.
Law Rep. 365

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD AND VML INSURANCE PROGRAMS
v.
MARY E. RAHIM.

Record No. 1737–10–2.

Court of Appeals of Virginia, Richmond.

July 12, 2011.


[711 S.E.2d 242]

Ralph L. Whitt, Jr., Glen Allen, (Corey R. Pollard; Whitt & Del Bueno, PC, on briefs), for appellants.Kathleen Grace Walsh (Law Office of Kathleen Grace Walsh, on brief), Occoquan, for appellee.Present: FELTON, C.J., and ELDER, HUMPHREYS, KELSEY, McCLANAHAN, PETTY, BEALES, POWELL and ALSTON, JJ.

UPON A REHEARING EN BANC
HUMPHREYS, Judge.

[58 Va.App. 495] Prince William County School Board (“Prince William County”) appeals the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission (“commission”) finding that the wages paid to Mary E. Rahim (“Rahim”) for light-duty work from January 17, 2007, and continuing for a period of twenty-four months, qualified as compensation paid pursuant to an award under Code § 65.2–708(C), and holding that her claim for temporary total disability benefits filed on October 7, 2009, was not barred by the statute of limitations. On appeal, Prince William County alleges that the commission erred in its application and interpretation of Code § 65.2–708 when a compensation benefits award had not been previously entered in this case. For the following reasons, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

“On appeal, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party before the commission.” Cent. Va. Obstetrics & Gynecology Assocs., P.C. v. Whitfield, 42 Va.App. 264, 269, 590 S.E.2d 631, 634 (2004) (citing Clinchfield Coal Co. v. Reed, 40 Va.App. 69, 72, 577 S.E.2d 538, 539 (2003)). So viewed, the evidence is as follows.

On January 17, 2007, Rahim sustained a compensable injury by accident to her low back, right knee, and right forearm while she was working for Prince William County. On November 15, 2007, Rahim filed a claim for benefits reporting two separate work accidents that occurred on June 13, 2006, and January 17, 2007, but she did not seek any specific benefits at that time. On September 8, 2008, Rahim filed an amended claim for benefits for the January 17, 2007 accident in which she sought the following benefits: “Compensation for total wage loss for the periods listed below: From: 01/17/2007 To: 09/08/2008[;] Continuing Benefits[;] Payment of lifetime [58 Va.App. 496] medical costs for this injury and/or disease[; and] Other: Get back any personal sick leave days used.”

The commission entered a stipulated order on June 18, 2009, in which the parties stipulated that (1) the injury was compensable; (2) Rahim was receiving an average weekly wage of $423.39 at the time of the accident; (3) Rahim “did not sustain any wage loss or incur any lost time from work but was partially disabled and provided appropriate light duty work by [Prince William County] at or above the pre-injury average weekly wage from January 17, 2007 to the present and continuing”; and (4) Prince William County agreed “to be responsible for reasonable and necessary medical treatment, including surgery,....” The commission then concluded, “[a]ccordingly, a medical-only award is entered

[711 S.E.2d 243]

in favor of [Rahim] against [Prince William County] for as long as necessary pursuant to [ ] Code § 65.2–603.”

On October 7, 2009, Rahim filed an application for a hearing for a change in condition seeking temporary total disability benefits from August 12, 2009, and continuing. The parties subsequently agreed to submit the issue on the record; and, on February 12, 2010, both parties submitted their position statements. By letter, Rahim specifically sought temporary total disability benefits from August 11, 2009, through October 27, 2009, because her physician removed her from work for a scheduled back surgery, and temporary partial disability benefits from October 28, 2009, through October 30, 2009, based on the loss of eleven hours of work over the three days. Prince William County claimed that Rahim's claim for compensation was barred by the applicable statute of limitations.1 By letter, faxed to the commission on February 24, 2010, pursuant to its request for confirmation, Prince William County stipulated that Rahim was totally disabled from the date of her surgery, August 18, 2009, through October 27, 2009, that she was partially disabled from October 28, 2009, through October 30, 2009, during which time she worked eleven out of eighteen [58 Va.App. 497] hours of work, and that she was paid $236.50 in regular wages, and $150.50 from accrued sick leave.

On February 26, 2010, the deputy commissioner found that Rahim's change-in-condition claim was timely filed based on the commission's decision in Fountain v. City of Charlottesville, VWC File No. 221–58–12, 2009 Va. Wrk. Comp. Lexis 423 (Aug. 7, 2009), despite earlier caselaw to the contrary. 2 The deputy commissioner then found that the light-duty wages paid from January 17, 2007, and continuing for twenty-four months are considered compensation paid pursuant to an award under Code § 65.2–708(A) and (C). The deputy commissioner then entered an award for temporary total disability benefits from August 11, 2009,3 through October 27, 2009, but [58 Va.App. 498] did not award compensation for partial work incapacity for October 28—30, 2009, due to a lack of information in the record establishing the amount paid per day prior to the accident.

Prince William County appealed the decision to the full commission on March 8, 2010. On July 16, 2010, the commission affirmed the deputy commissioner's decision finding that payment of wages to an injured worker is considered compensation pursuant to an award, a determination that they found was consistent with this Court's decision in Gordon v. Ford Motor Co., 55 Va.App. 363, 685 S.E.2d 880 (2009), aff'd, 281 Va. 543, 708 S.E.2d 846 (2011), and held that the claim was timely filed on October 7, 2009. In

[711 S.E.2d 244]

reaching this conclusion, the commission held that Mayberry v. Alcoa Bldg. Prods., 18 Va.App. 18, 441 S.E.2d 349 (1994), was inapplicable because no formal award had been entered in that case, and the claimant had not asserted that Code § 65.2–708(C) was applicable. In addition, the commission held that Augusta Cnty. Sch. Bd. v. Humphreys, 53 Va.App. 355, 672 S.E.2d 117 (2009), was also inapplicable because the claimant in that case was awarded compensation for days that she missed work due to medical appointments.

On August 13, 2010, Prince William County appealed the commission's decision to a three judge panel of this Court, which summarily affirmed it on December 21, 2010. On January 25, 2011, this Court granted Prince William County's petition for a rehearing en banc.

II. ANALYSIS

On appeal, Prince William County contends that “the sole issue before this Court is whether the full Commission ... erred in its application and interpretation of Code § 65.2–708 and specifically subsection C to this case” in concluding that Rahim's amended claim for benefits based upon a change in her condition was timely filed. However, Prince William County presented the following six assignments of error:

[58 Va.App. 499] 1. The full Commission erred in ruling that payment of wages to Rahim is considered compensation pursuant to an award under [ ] Code § 65.2–708(C) [,] and applying that section when previously there had been no award entered for compensation benefits.

2. The full Commission erred in applying [ ] Code § 65.2–708, which grants the Commission power on motion or application for change in condition to make an award “ending, diminishing, or increasing the compensation previously awarded[,]” to a claim for compensation when there has been no compensation previously awarded.

3. The full Commission erred in finding that the statute of limitations had not expired on compensation benefits and awarding compensation when the claim for compensation was first filed more than two years after the accident.

4. The full Commission erred in finding that the statute of limitations had not expired on compensation benefits and awarding compensation when the first lost time from work and/or lost wages incurred by Rahim occurred more than two years after the accident.

5. The full Commission erred in ruling that Mayberry v. Alcoa Bldg. Prod [ s.], 18 Va.App. 18, 441 S.E.2d 349 (1994)[,] was not applicable to the present case.

6. The full Commission erred in ruling that a finding that the statute of limitations had run on compensation in this matter would be “inconsistent with the purpose and the plain words used in the statute.”

Since all the issues necessarily focus on the commission's interpretation of Code § 65.2–708, we address the interpretation of that section of the Code, which in turn answers all of the assignments of error.

A. Standard of Review

“An issue of statutory interpretation is a pure question of law which we review de novo.” Ford Motor Co. v. Gordon, 281 Va. 543, 549, 708 S.E.2d 846, 849 (2011) (citing [58 Va.App. 500] Conyers v. Martial Arts World of Richmond, Inc., 273 Va. 96, 104, 639 S.E.2d 174, 178 (2007)).

As to issues of statutory construction, “[a]lthough the practical construction given to a statute by public officials charged with its enforcement is entitled to great weight by the courts and in doubtful cases will be regarded as decisive, when an issue involves a pure question of statutory interpretation, that issue does not invoke the agency's specialized competence but is a question of law to be decided by the courts.”

Diaz v. Wilderness Resort Ass'n, 56 Va.App. 104, 114, 691 S.E.2d 517, 522 (2010) (quoting Commonwealth v. Barker, 275 Va. 529, 536, 659 S.E.2d 502, 505 (2008)).

“When the language of a statute is unambiguous, we are bound by the plain meaning of that language. Furthermore, we must give effect to the legislature's intention as expressed by the language used

[711 S.E.2d 245]

unless a literal interpretation of the language would result in a manifest absurdity. If a statute...

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10 practice notes
  • Util. Trailer Mfg. Co. v. Testerman, Record No. 1484–10–3.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • July 12, 2011
    ...is occasioned by an injury suffered from an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. The Act should be liberally [711 S.E.2d 241] construed in harmony with its humane purpose.Sowers, 33 Va.App. at 209, 532 S.E.2d at 347 (quoting USAir, Inc. v. Joyce, 27 Va.App. 184, 189,......
  • Cabinetry v. Jewell, Record No. 1628–11–4.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • May 1, 2012
    ...” (quoting Bd. of Sup. v. King Land Corp., 238 Va. 97, 103, 380 S.E.2d 895, 897–98 (1989))).Prince William Cnty. Sch. Bd. v. Rahim, 58 Va.App. 493, 501, 711 S.E.2d 241, 245 (2011) ( en banc ) (alterations in original). Turning to the plain language of Code § 65.2–602, we hold that a blue le......
  • Saffert v. Fairfax County Sch. Bd., Record No. 0870–11–4.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 17, 2012
    ...(1999). Saffert raises an issue of statutory interpretation, which we review de novo on appeal. Prince William Co. School Bd. v. Rahim, 58 Va.App. 493, 500, 711 S.E.2d 241, 244 (2011) (en banc). The Workers' Compensation Act does not expressly define what it means to “replace” a prosthesis ......
  • Anthony v. Skolnick-Lozano, Record No. 1270–13–2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • March 4, 2014
    ...Servs. v. Beverly Healthcare, 268 Va. 278, 285, 601 S.E.2d 604, 607–08 (2004); see also Prince William Cnty. Sch. Bd. v. Rahim, 58 Va.App. 493, 500, 711 S.E.2d 241, 245 (2011), aff'd,284 Va. 316, 733 S.E.2d 235 (2012). “Whenever possible ... it is our duty to interpret the several parts of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • Util. Trailer Mfg. Co. v. Testerman, Record No. 1484–10–3.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • July 12, 2011
    ...is occasioned by an injury suffered from an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. The Act should be liberally [711 S.E.2d 241] construed in harmony with its humane purpose.Sowers, 33 Va.App. at 209, 532 S.E.2d at 347 (quoting USAir, Inc. v. Joyce, 27 Va.App. 184, 189,......
  • Cabinetry v. Jewell, Record No. 1628–11–4.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • May 1, 2012
    ...” (quoting Bd. of Sup. v. King Land Corp., 238 Va. 97, 103, 380 S.E.2d 895, 897–98 (1989))).Prince William Cnty. Sch. Bd. v. Rahim, 58 Va.App. 493, 501, 711 S.E.2d 241, 245 (2011) ( en banc ) (alterations in original). Turning to the plain language of Code § 65.2–602, we hold that a blue le......
  • Saffert v. Fairfax County Sch. Bd., Record No. 0870–11–4.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 17, 2012
    ...(1999). Saffert raises an issue of statutory interpretation, which we review de novo on appeal. Prince William Co. School Bd. v. Rahim, 58 Va.App. 493, 500, 711 S.E.2d 241, 244 (2011) (en banc). The Workers' Compensation Act does not expressly define what it means to “replace” a prosthesis ......
  • Anthony v. Skolnick-Lozano, Record No. 1270–13–2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • March 4, 2014
    ...Servs. v. Beverly Healthcare, 268 Va. 278, 285, 601 S.E.2d 604, 607–08 (2004); see also Prince William Cnty. Sch. Bd. v. Rahim, 58 Va.App. 493, 500, 711 S.E.2d 241, 245 (2011), aff'd,284 Va. 316, 733 S.E.2d 235 (2012). “Whenever possible ... it is our duty to interpret the several parts of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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