State ex rel. Gobich v. Indus. Comm., 103 Ohio St.3d 585 (OH 11/24/2004)

Decision Date24 November 2004
Docket NumberCase No. 2004-0187.
Citation103 Ohio St.3d 585,2004 Ohio 5990
PartiesThe State ex rel. Gobich, appellant, v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, Appellee.
CourtOhio Supreme Court

APPEAL from the Court of Appeals for Franklin County, No. 03AP-99, 2003-Ohio-7035.

Clements, Mahin & Cohen, L.L.P., and William E. Clements, for appellant.

Jim Petro, Attorney General, and William J. McDonald, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

PER CURIAM

.

{¶1} In 1998, appellee Industrial Commission of Ohio granted the application of appellee-claimant, John F. Gobich, for permanent total disability ("PTD") compensation and awarded compensation retroactive to July 3, 1996. In 2002, the Bureau of Workers' Compensation alleged that claimant had worked during this period and moved to have PTD benefits terminated, an overpayment assessed, and fraud declared.

{¶2} The evidence showed that before being declared PTD, claimant had done a couple of odd jobs in 1996 and 1997. These jobs became problematic when the commission backdated claimant's PTD award over this period. There was also evidence that claimant had worked four hours for a total of $120 in January 1997 and was paid $350.63 for an odd job in early 1998, both jobs again preceding claimant's notification that he had been awarded PTD compensation.

{¶3} A commission Staff Hearing Officer ("SHO") denied the bureau's motion:

{¶4} "The Staff Hearing Officer finds that the claimant was gainfully employed for periods of time subsequently [sic] to filing his application for permanent total disability compensation but prior to receiving the order granting his application. The claimant testified that he performed `odd' jobs for his friend and business owner, Charles Caudill, earning $855.00 in 1996 and $960 in 1997. The Staff Hearing Officer finds that at the time the claimant received wages from Caudill Construction Co., he was not receiving any compensation for disability due to the industrial claims. The claimant's hearing on his application for permanent total compensation was on 01/22/98 and the finding granting permanent total compensation was mailed 02/04/98.

{¶5} "The Staff Hearing Officer further finds that the claimant's performance of `odd' labor jobs does not demonstrate that the claimant is able to perform sustained remunerative employment despite his limitations due to the allowed conditions in the claims. The fact that the claimant performed simple laboring jobs on a limited basis for his business-owner friend does not rise to the level of constituting the ability to engage in sustained remunerative employment.

{¶6} " * * *

{¶7} "The Staff Hearing Officer denies the Bureau of Workers' Compensation request to terminate permanent total compensation. The Staff Hearing Officer finds that the claimant is not capable of performing sustained remunerative employment based on the limited work activities engaged in prior to the adjudication of his permanent total disability application.

{¶8} "The Staff Hearing Officer further denies the Bureau of Workers' Compensation request that a finding of fraud be made. The Staff Hearing Officer finds that the claimant did not have the intent to falsely conceal employment or make a representation falsely in order to obtain compensation that he was otherwise not qualified to receive."

{¶9} The bureau moved for reconsideration. Its motion contained no new information and simply rehashed evidence that had already been presented to the SHO. In a June 18, 2002 interlocutory order, the commission decided to set the matter for hearing. The order, however, also directed that the merits of claimant's PTD termination be set for the same hearing.

{¶10} On October 25, 2002, the commission found that it had continuing jurisdiction to reconsider the case:

{¶11} "It is the finding of the Industrial Commission that the order of the Staff Hearing Officer is based on clear mistakes of law of such character that remedial action would clearly follow; therefore, the exercise of continuing jurisdiction is appropriate in this case. In granting the injured worker's application for permanent total disability, the Staff Hearing Officer failed to consider the fact that the injured worker was working immediately prior to, and after, the hearing on 01/22/1998."

{¶12} The commission then stopped the payment of claimant's PTD benefits, declared an overpayment of all prior PTD compensation, and issued a declaration of fraud.

{¶13} Claimant filed a complaint in mandamus in the Court of Appeals for Franklin County, alleging that the commission had abused its discretion in reconsidering the May 10, 2002 SHO order. The court of appeals disagreed and denied the writ, prompting claimant's appeal to this court as of right.

{¶14} The commission's power to reconsider a previous decision derives from its general grant of continuing jurisdiction under R.C. 4123.52. State ex rel. Royal v. Indus. Comm. (2002), 95 Ohio St.3d 97, 99, 766 N.E.2d 135. This authority, of course, has limits. State ex rel. B & C Machine Co. v. Indus. Comm. (1992), 65 Ohio St.3d 538, 541, 605 N.E.2d 372. Continuing jurisdiction can be invoked only where one of these preconditions exists: (1) new and changed circumstances, (2) fraud, (3) clear mistake of fact, (4) clear mistake of law, or (5) error by an inferior tribunal. State ex rel. Nicholls v. Indus. Comm. (1998), 81 Ohio St.3d 454, 459, 692 N.E.2d 188.

{¶15} The presence of one of these prerequisites must be clearly articulated in any commission order seeking to exercise reconsideration jurisdiction. Nicholls; State ex rel. Foster v. Indus. Comm. (1999), 85 Ohio St.3d 320, 707 N.E.2d 1122. This means that the prerequisite must be both identified and explained. Id. It is not enough to say, for example, that there has been a clear error of law. The order must also state what that error is. Nicholls,81 Ohio St.3d at 459, 692 N.E.2d 188; Foster at 322, 707 N.E.2d 1122. This ensures that the party opposing reconsideration can prepare a meaningful defense to the assertion that continuing jurisdiction is warranted. Royal, 95 Ohio St.3d at 100, 766 N.E.2d 135. It also permits a reviewing court to determine whether continuing jurisdiction was properly invoked. Id. at 99-100, 766 N.E.2d 135.

{¶16} In this controversy, the commission rested its exercise of continuing jurisdiction on "clear mistakes of law of such character that remedial action would clearly follow * * *. [T]he Staff Hearing Officer failed to consider the fact that the injured worker was working immediately prior to, and after, the [PTD] hearing on 01/22/1998." (Emphasis added.)

{¶17} Two questions arise from this reasoning: (1) Was there a mistake? (2) If so, was it clear? On close examination, it appears that, regardless of how the bureau tried to characterize it, its complaint with the SHO's order was really an evidentiary one: the bureau produced evidence that it believed established a capacity for sustained remunerative employment, and the SHO found otherwise. Royal, however, has specifically stated that a legitimate disagreement as to evidentiary interpretation does not mean that one of them was mistaken and does not, at a minimum, establish that an error was clear. Id., 95 Ohio St.3d at 100, ...

To continue reading

Request your trial
73 cases
  • State ex rel. Lynch v. Indus. Comm.
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Appeals
    • January 25, 2007
    ...continuing jurisdiction. See Nicholls, 81 Ohio St.3d 454, 692 N.E.2d 188; Foster, 85 Ohio St.3d 320, 707 N.E.2d 1122; and Gobich, 103 Ohio St.3d 585, 817 N.E.2d 398. {¶ 17} The power of the commission to reconsider a previous decision flows from the general grant of continuing jurisdiction ......
  • State ex rel. Cleveland Browns Football Co. v. Indus. Comm'n of Ohio
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Appeals
    • March 9, 2017
    ...188 (1998), State ex rel. Foster v. Indus. Comm., 85 Ohio St.3d 320, 707 N.E.2d 1122 (1999), and State ex rel. Gobich v. Indus. Comm., 103 Ohio St.3d 585, 2004-Ohio-5990, 817 N.E.2d 398, in order to correct this error.The Employer's request for reconsideration, filed 11/01/2013, is granted.......
  • State v. Aldi, Inc.
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Appeals
    • January 12, 2016
    ...(2) fraud, (3) clear mistake of fact, (4) clear mistake of law, or (5) error by inferior tribunal." State ex rel. Gobich v. Indus. Comm., 103 Ohio St.3d 585, 2004-Ohio-5990, ¶ 15, citing Nicholls at 459. {¶ 8} In Gobich, the Supreme Court of Ohio provided further instruction on the applicab......
  • State ex rel. Dailey v. Indus. Comm'n
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Appeals
    • June 25, 2019
    ...188 (1998), State ex rel. Foster v. Indus. Comm., 85 Ohio St.3d 320, 707 N.E.2d 1122 (1999), and State ex rel. Gobich v. Indus. Comm., 103 Ohio St.3d 585, 2004-Ohio-5990, 817 N.E.2d 398, in order to correct these errors. {¶ 43} The commission vacated the SHO order and granted the claim excl......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT