State ex rel. Mignella v. Indus. Comm'n of Ohio

Docket Number22AP-155
Decision Date09 November 2023
Citation2023 Ohio 4074
PartiesState ex rel. Mary Mignella, Relator, v. Industrial Commission of Ohio et al., Respondents.
CourtOhio Court of Appeals

IN MANDAMUS ON OBJECTION TO THE MAGISTRATE'S DECISION

On brief:

Green Haines Sgambati Co., LPA, Shawn D. Scharf, and Charles W Oldfield, for relator.

On brief:

Dave Yost, Attorney General, and John Smart, for respondent Industrial Commission of Ohio.

On brief:

Ennis Britton Co., LPA, and Giselle S. Spencer, for respondent Warren City School District Board of Education.

DECISION

DORRIAN, J.

{¶ 1} Relator, Mary Mignella, filed this original action in mandamus seeking a writ compelling respondent Industrial Commission of Ohio ("commission") to vacate its order denying Mignella's application for permanent total disability ("PTD") compensation and enter an order granting such compensation. Pursuant to Civ.R 53 and Loc.R. 13(M) of the Tenth District Court of Appeals, this matter was referred to a magistrate who issued a decision, including findings of fact and conclusions of law, which is appended hereto. The magistrate recommends this court deny the request for a writ of mandamus. Having determined the magistrate correctly concluded the independent medical examiner's report constituted some evidence on which the commission could rely in denying Mignella's application, we overrule Mignella's objection to the magistrate's decision and deny the writ.

{¶ 2} Mignella has filed the following objection to the magistrate's decision:

Pursuant to Civil Rule 53(D)(3)(b) and Local Rule 13(M)(2), Relator, Mary Mignella, objects to the Magistrate's conclusion that she is capable of sedentary work and thus, that she is capable of sustained, remunerative employment and is ineligible for permanent total disability benefits.

{¶ 3} Mignella was a teacher employed by respondent Warren City School District Board of Education and, on March 9, 2011, she suffered injuries due to a fall at work. A workers' compensation claim was allowed for sprain lumbosacral, sprain lumbar region, sprain sacroiliac, sprain thoracic region, neck sprain, left shoulder sprain, open wound lip, necrosis of pulp teeth 8 and 9, lumbar intervertebral disc displacement L4-5 and L5-S1, bulging disc without myelopathy C5-6, cervical intervertebral disc displacement C6-7 and C7-T1. On January 15, 2015, Mignella filed an application for PTD compensation; her application was supported by a report from Denise M. Carradine, D.C., opining that Mignella had a 69 percent whole body permanent physical impairment and was incapable of work. Mignella also presented a vocational evaluation report concluding she would be unable to sustain remunerative employment.

{¶ 4} Karen Gade-Pulido, M.D., conducted an independent medical examination of Mignella at the commission's request. Dr. Gade-Pulido opined that Mignella had a 48 percent whole person impairment and was capable of sedentary work but would need to be allowed to change position every 20 minutes. In relevant part, Dr. Gade-Pulido summarized her conclusions as follows:

Ms. Mignella demonstrates reduced range of motion of the cervical and lumbrosacral spine with objective evidence of underlying allowed disc pathology which precludes her ability to maintain prolonged static positioning as well as her ability to walk or stand for more than 30 minutes. These conditions also preclude heavy lifting of more than would be required in a sedentary level of work. Based solely upon the allowed physical conditions of this industrial claim, she is capable of a sedentary level of work; however, she would need to be allowed to change position every 20 minutes.

(Dr. Gade-Pulido Report at 8.)

{¶ 5} A commission staff hearing officer ("SHO") conducted a hearing on the PTD application on April 28, 2020. In a decision mailed May 1, 2020, the SHO found Mignella was not permanently and totally disabled, relying on the report of Dr. Gade-Pulido to conclude that Mignella was capable of sedentary work. Mignella sought reconsideration of the SHO's decision, and the commission denied the request for reconsideration. Mignella filed a complaint in mandamus in this court on March 9, 2022.

{¶ 6} A relator seeking a writ of mandamus as a remedy from a commission decision must demonstrate that he or she has a clear legal right to the relief sought and that the commission has a clear legal duty to provide such relief. State ex rel. Rouch v. Eagle Tool & Machine Co., 26 Ohio St.3d 197, 198 (1986). A clear legal right to a writ of mandamus exists when the commission abuses its discretion by entering an order not supported by some evidence. State ex rel Elliott v. Indus. Comm., 26 Ohio St.3d 76, 79 (1986).

{¶ 7} In her sole objection, Mignella argues the magistrate erred by concluding that Dr. Gade-Pulido's report constituted some evidence on which the commission could rely in concluding that she was capable of sedentary employment and denying her PTD application. Mignella asserts Dr. Gade-Pulido's requirement that she change position every 20 minutes, when read in conjunction with the conclusion that she could not stand or walk more than 30 minutes, constituted a restriction on the length of time Mignella could sit. Citing this court's decisions in State ex rel. Libecap v. Indus. Comm., 10th Dist. No. 96APD01-29 (Sept. 5, 1996); State ex rel. Owens Corning Fiberglass v. Indus. Comm., 10th Dist. No. 03AP-684, 2004-Ohio-3841; and State ex rel. Kidd v. Indus. Comm., 10th Dist. No. 20AP-364, 2022-Ohio-450, Mignella argues the limitations set forth in Dr. Gade-Pulido's report are not consistent with the requirements of sedentary work.

{¶ 8} Mignella raised this same argument before the magistrate and the magistrate rejected it, concluding that the requirement of changing her position every 20 minutes did not constitute a temporal limitation on Mignella's ability to sit. The magistrate distinguished this court's decision in Kidd, in which we concluded that a claimant's inability to sit for more than 30 minutes and need to take a 1 to 2 minute rest period every 15 to 20 minutes was inconsistent with sedentary work. In this case, the magistrate concluded there was no clear or apparent inconsistency between the medical limitations imposed in Dr. Gade-Pulido's report and the conclusion that Mignella could maintain sustained remunerative employment and, therefore, the report constituted some evidence on which the commission could rely in denying Mignella's application for PTD compensation.

{¶ 9} After the magistrate issued his decision in this case and Mignella submitted her objection, the Supreme Court of Ohio decided the appeal of this court's decision in Kidd. State ex rel. Kidd v. Indus. Comm., __Ohio St.3d__, 2023-Ohio-2975. In that decision, the Supreme Court reversed this court's judgment and denied the claimant's request for a writ of mandamus. Id. at ¶ 35. The independent medical examiner in that case reported the claimant could stand for approximately 20 minutes, sit for 20 to 30 minutes with a change in position, and walk half a mile. Id. at ¶ 25. Based on those limitations, the independent medical examiner concluded the claimant could work at a sedentary level and would need to be allowed rest periods of 1 to 2 minutes every 15 to 20 minutes while standing, sitting, or walking. Id. The Supreme Court held that the restrictions contained in the independent medical examiner's report were consistent with sedentary work as defined in the Ohio Administrative Code and therefore the commission could rely on that report as some evidence the claimant was medically capable of sedentary work. Id. at ¶ 26.

{¶ 10} Following the Supreme Court's decision in Kidd, Mignella filed a supplemental brief asserting the SHO in her case relied solely on Dr. Gade-Pulido's bottom line conclusion and failed to consider the specific restrictions imposed in her report.[1]Contrary to Mignella's claim, however, the SHO's order expressly discussed the restrictions included in Dr. Gade-Pulido's report in concluding that Mignella was medically capable of sedentary work. Therefore, the magistrate did not err by concluding that Dr. Gade-Pulido's report constituted some evidence on which the commission could rely in denying Mignella's application for PTD compensation. Accordingly, we overrule Mignella's sole objection to the magistrate's decision.

{¶ 11} Upon review of the magistrate's decision, an independent review of the record, and due consideration of Mignella's objection, we find the magistrate has properly determined the pertinent facts and applied the appropriate law. We therefore overrule Mignella's objection to the magistrate's decision and adopt the magistrate's decision as our own, including the findings of fact and conclusions of law contained therein. Accordingly, the requested writ of mandamus is hereby denied.

Objection overruled; writ of mandamus denied.

LUPER SCHUSTER and LELAND, JJ., concur.

APPENDIX

Rendered on July 25, 2023

IN MANDAMUS

MAGISTRATE'S DECISION

JOSEPH E. WENGER IV MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

{¶ 12} Relator, Mary Mignella, seeks a writ of mandamus ordering respondent Industrial Commission of Ohio ("commission") to vacate its order denying relator's request for reconsideration and to enter an order approving relator's application for permanent total disability ("PTD") compensation.

I. Findings of Fact

{¶ 13} 1. On March 9, 2011, relator sustained an injury due to a fall in the course of and arising out of her employment with respondent Warren City School District Board of Education ("employer").

{¶ 14} 2. Relator's workers' compensation claim was allowed for the following conditions: "sprain lumbosacral; sprain lumbar region; sprain sacroiliac; sprain...

To continue reading

Request your trial

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