WORKERS COMP – Motion to reopen, no response required: Crawford & Company v. Joseph Wright, et al. (SC 5/21/2009)

Crawford & Company v. Joseph Wright, et al.
2008-SC-000646-WC May 21, 2009
2008-SC-000746-WC May 21, 2009
Opinion of the Court. All sitting; all concur.

Crawford—the employer’s third party insurance adjuster—filed a motion to reopen 10 a 1987 award, seeking a determination that it had no responsibility for future medical treatment for claimant’s knee. ALJ Davis entered an order stating Crawford would be relieved of responsibility if no response was filed within 20 days. No response was filed and the matter subsequently came before the Chief ALJ who reopened the award and assigned the case to ALJ Smith to take additional proof in anticipation of ruling on the merits. ALJ Smith granted Crawford’s motion to reconsider reopening the award, vacated the Chief ALJ’s order, and reinstated ALJ Davis’ order– noting that no response had been filed. The Supreme Court held that a response to the motion to reopen is not required by the controlling regulation. Further, the Court held that to require a response to avoid the award being revised amounted to an impermissible shifting of the burden of proof. Lastly, the Court held that just because ALJ Davis presided over the Chief ALJ’s motion docket did not mean that ALJ Davis retained jurisdiction over the underlying medical dispute and reinstated the CALJ’s order reopening the award.

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