On June 18, 1998, the claimant was an Ohio resident and was employed by Navistar, an Ohio self-insured employer. While at an event held by his employer in New Jersey the claimant was injured. Navistar filed a workers’ compensation claim for the claimant in New Jersey that was allowed in that state. The claimant received a permanent partial award in 2003 and after that time, Navistar paid for medical treatment under this claim.
At the time of this injury, Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 4123.54 permitted injured workers’ to file workers’ compensation claims in more than one state. In 2008, Ohio statutes were changed to prohibit this. ORC 4123.54 and 4123.542 became effective on September 11, 2008 and these new statutes preclude a claimant from filing a claim in Ohio if one has obtained an allowed claim in another state. On March 11, 2009 the claimant filed a claim in Ohio. The Industrial Commission denied this Ohio claim as being barred by the new statutes. The claimant appealed this denial to Common Pleas Court. The claimant argued that the new statutes could not be applied retroactively and that the claimant had the established right to file this claim. Nevertheless, Navistar filed a motion for summary judgment asking that this claim be barred per the new statutes and this motion was granted.
The claimant appealed to the Court of Appeals and in John W Saxton v. Navistar, 2013-Ohio-352, it was decided that the claimant was not barred from filing the new claim under the new statutes. This court relied upon State ex re. Jeffrey v. Indus. Comm., 164 Ohio St 366 to rule “The right of an injured employee to compensation and medical benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act is governed strictly by the provisions of that act and may not be changed by the Industrial Commission or even the General Assembly subsequent to the accrual of the right. The right to payment for medical and hospital expenses is a substantive right, measured by the provisions of the act in force at the time the action accrues, which is the time the injury is received.” As the employer had raised other issues as part of its defense of this claim and the trial court had not ruled on them, this case was remanded back to the trial court to address them. These issues included whether or not this claim was barred by ORC 4123.84 as not being filed within two years of the date of injury in Ohio. So we will have to wait to see how this case is finally decided as it will probably be returning to this Court of Appeals.
Contact: Brian Tarian