Late last year, in Holmes v. Crawford Machine, Inc., Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-5380, the Ohio Supreme Court held that R.C. 4123.512(F) entitles a successful workers’ compensation claimant to recover all attorney fees, up to the $4,200 statutory maximum, and all costs, rather than apportioned amounts, when a trial court approves only one of the claimant’s multiple claimed medical conditions. In other words, as long as the trial court approves one claimed condition, R.C. 4123.512(F) entitles a claimant to also recover attorney fees and costs related to specifically disallowed conditions. The Court’s ruling resolved a conflict of decisions between the Third and Tenth District Courts of Appeals.
The case involved a workers’ compensation claim filed by Jeff Holmes for injuries to his hand, arm, shoulder and back that he alleged were caused when he suffered an electric shock while working for Crawford Machine, Inc. Holmes’s claim was ultimately allowed administratively for: left-shoulder strain; electrical shock; low back strain; left-rotator-cuff tear; left-posterior-shoulder dislocation; and abrasion of right fifth finger. Crawford Machine appealed the administrative order to the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas. Holmes petitioned the court for approval of all of his allowed conditions.
Following a jury trial, the court ruled that Holmes was entitled to participate in the Ohio Workers’ Compensation system for the condition of “abrasion right fifth finger” but was not entitled to participate for any of the other conditions that had been administratively allowed. Holmes then petitioned the court for recovery from Crawford Machine of the legal fees and costs he incurred during the appeal process. Crawford Machine argued that Holmes was not entitled to reimbursement of his attorney fees and costs because he had not incurred any attorney fees or costs in relation to his fifth-finger-abrasion condition. The trial court granted Holmes’s motion and ordered Crawford Machine to pay Holmes $4,200 in attorney fees and $7,551.23 in costs.
Crawford Machine appealed from the judgment granting attorney fees and costs, and Holmes appealed from the judgment allowing one, but not all, of his claimed conditions. The Third District Court of Appeals upheld the judgment allowing only one of Holmes’s claimed conditions, and reversed the judgment awarding attorney fees and costs. The Third District certified that its ruling regarding attorney fees and costs was in conflict with a Tenth District Court of Appeals decision on the same legal issue. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed to review the case to resolve the conflict.
Contact: Alex Kipp