State, ex rel. Chrysler Corp., v. Indus. Comm.

Decision Date11 December 1991
Docket NumberNo. 90-1256,90-1256
Citation580 N.E.2d 1082,62 Ohio St.3d 193
CourtOhio Supreme Court

Claimant, Dennis Vaughn, injured his left elbow in 1961 while in the course of and arising from his employment with appellee, Chrysler Corporation, a self-insured employer. After receiving temporary total disability compensation, claimant returned to work and continued working until he retired on December 31, 1982. Claimant indicated on his retirement form that he was taking an "Early Retirement at Employee Option." Despite having the opportunity to do so, claimant did not take a designated "Permanent Total Disability Retirement."

In early 1985, claimant applied to appellant, Industrial Commission of Ohio, for permanent total disability compensation. His application was denied. He filed a second permanent total disability compensation application in May 1987. Accompanying the latter application was Dr. Raul De La Iglesia's report which concluded that claimant was permanently and totally impaired. The commission granted claimant's application on June 3, 1988 based:

" * * * [P]articularly upon the reports of Doctors Levine and De La Iglesia, a consideration of the claimant's age, education, work history and other disability factors including physical, psychological and sociological, that are contained within the Statement of Facts prepared for the hearing on the instant Application, the evidence in the file and the evidence adduced at the hearing."

Early the next year, claimant applied to the commission for a lump-sum advancement of attorney fees from Chrysler. Five weeks later, the commission issued the following order granting that application:

" * * * [T]he Request for Authorization to make a Lump Sum Payment filed herein on 1-4-89 * * * [is] granted and the employer is directed to make the advancement of $4,085.33 * * *.

" * * * Notices were mailed to the claimant, the employer, their respective representatives, and the Administrator of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation not less than 14 days prior to this date. The following were present at the hearing * * *." Despite the order's language, the commission concedes that Chrysler was not notified of the hearing on claimant's lump-sum payment application.

Chrysler filed a complaint in mandamus in the Court of Appeals for Franklin County, challenging the permanent total disability compensation and lump-sum payment awards. The court granted a limited writ, finding that the commission's order did not sufficiently explain the reasons for its decision, particularly the effect, if any, of claimant's retirement on his eligibility for permanent total disability compensation. The court also held that Chrysler was entitled to a hearing on claimant's lump-sum payment application. The awards were vacated and the cause was returned to the commission for additional consideration of these matters.

This cause is now before this court upon an appeal as of right.

Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, and George H. Rosin, Akron, for appellee.

Lee I. Fisher, Atty. Gen., Michael L. Squillace, Columbus, and Jetta Mencer, Coshocton, for appellant.


The commission challenges the appellate court's decision to return this cause to the commission for additional consideration of claimant's entitlement to permanent total disability compensation and lump-sum payment. For the reasons to follow, we affirm the judgment below.

The commission's order granting permanent total disability compensation did not discuss claimant's retirement nor did it explain what nonmedical factors persuaded the commission to find claimant permanently and totally disabled. While the latter deficiency generally warrants a return to the commission for an amended order, in certain situations it does not. State, ex rel. Galion Mfg. Div., Dresser Industries, Inc., v. Haygood (1991), 60 Ohio St.3d 38, 573 N.E.2d 60, carved a limited exception to the general rule set forth in State, ex rel. Noll, v. Indus. Comm. (1991), 57 Ohio St.3d 203, 567 N.E.2d 245, in the case of a claimant whose award of permanent total disability compensation was supported by medical evidence of permanent total impairment. In Haygood we wrote:

" * * * While permanent total disability benefits may never be denied solely on the basis of medical evidence without consideration of Stephenson [State, ex rel. Stephenson, v. Indus. Comm. (1987), 31 Ohio St.3d 167, 31 OBR 369, 509 N.E.2d 946, nonmedical disability] factors contained in the record, there are some situations where an award of such benefits may properly be based on medical factors alone. It would serve no practical purpose for the commission to consider nonmedical factors in extreme situations where medical factors alone preclude sustained remunerative employment, since nonmedical factors will not render the claimant any more or less physically able to work." (Emphasis sic.) Id., 60 Ohio St.3d at 40, 573 N.E.2d at 62.

In the present case, the commission based its finding of permanent total disability, in part, on Dr. De La Iglesia's report. His comprehensive narrative concluded that claimant was medically incapable of sustained remunerative employment due to the...

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    ... ... (State ex rel. CPC Group, Gen. Motors Corp. v. Indus. Comm. [1990], 53 Ohio St.3d 209, 559 N.E.2d 1330, followed and applied; State ex rel. Chrysler Corp. v. Indus. Comm. [1991], 62 Ohio St.3d 193, 580 N.E.2d 1082, and State ex rel. Consolidation Coal Co. v. Yance [1992], 63 Ohio St.3d 460, 588 N.E.2d 845, modified.) ...         3. An employee who retires subsequent to becoming permanently and totally disabled is not precluded from ... ...
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