The Appellate Group

Graphic Pkg. Int’l Inc. v. Lab. Comm’n

Graphic Pkg. Int’l Inc. v. Lab. Comm’n, 2021 UT App 82 (Harris, J.)

Workers Compensation

While working for Company, Employee sustained back injuries. After the first medical panel failed to timely answer the ALJ’s questions, the ALJ appointed a second panel, and the Commission ultimately awarded Employee temporary total worker’s compensation benefits. The Company appealed, challenging the appointment of a second medical panel and arguing that the evidence was insufficient to find that Employee’s refusal of light duty work was reasonable. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • The statute permits the Commission to refer aspects of the case to “a medical panel.” Utah Code § 34A-2-601(1)(a). This wording does not limit the Commission’s discretion regarding medical panel appointments, including the discretion to appoint more than one panel if necessary.
  • The reasonableness of an employee’s decision to refuse light-duty work must be analyzed in light of the information available to the employee at the time he declined the offer. Here, there was sufficient evidence that the refusal was reasonable at the time because the surgeon recommended that Employee not return to work until after an additional surgical procedure.

Read the full court opinion