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Patton v. Robarge Construction Company

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

A-12-0710, Christopher Patton (Appellant) v. Robarge Construction Company

Workers’ Compensation Court

Attorney for Appellant:  Michael P. Dowd (Dowd Howard Law Firm)

Attorney for Appellee:  Jon S. Reid (Lamson Dugan Law Firm)

Workers’ Compensation Action:  Employee claim for benefits

Action taken by the Trial Court:  The parties stipulated to the accident, so the issues tried were the nature and extent of Patton’s injuries and his entitlement to future medical care. The trial court awarded temporary total disability benefits for certain periods. The court noted that a doctor found that Patton had certain new restrictions and that accordingly, the court-appointed vocational rehabilitation counselor found that Patton had an increase in loss of earning capacity to anywhere from 50- to 60-percent. However, the court declined to award any increase earning capacity loss because of the parties’ stipulation that Robarge had already paid 300 weeks of indemnity payments temporary total disability and a loss of earning capacity at a rate of 30-percent based upon the report of a prior counselor. The court denied vocational rehabilitation benefits based on Patton’s previous failure to complete requirements of the plan and found that Patton was entitled to payment of past and future medical benefits.

Assignments of Error on Appeal:  Did the trial court err in failing to find Patton sustained a 50- to 60-percent loss of earning capacity? Did the trial court err in rejecting the unrefuted opinion of the agreed-upon vocational expert, which carries a rebuttable presumption of correctness, that Patton sustained a 50- to 60-percent loss of earnings? Did the trial court err in finding that voluntary payment of benefits by Robarge prevented the trial court from adjudicating the extent of permanent impairment sustained by Patton?

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