12-0080. WILLIAM HUNTLEY Employee v. ALASKA RAILROAD CORPORATION Self-insured Employer and POINTSURE Its Workers' Compensation Insurance Adjuster Defendants.

Court:Alaska
 
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Alaska Workers Compensation Decisions 2012. Workers' Compensation Board 12-0080. WILLIAM HUNTLEY Employee v. ALASKA RAILROAD CORPORATION Self-insured Employer and POINTSURE Its Workers' Compensation Insurance Adjuster Defendants ALASKA WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARDP.O. Box 115512 Juneau, Alaska 99811 -5512WILLIAM HUNTLEY, Employee, Applicant, v. ALASKA RAILROAD CORPORATION, Self-insured Employer, and POINTSURE, Its Workers' Compensation Insurance Adjuster, Defendants.AWCB Decision No. 12-0080Filed with AWCB Fairbanks, Alaskaon April 30th, 2012AWCB Case No. 200701722INTERLOCUTORY DECISION AND ORDERWilliam Huntley's (Employee), July 13, 2011 Petition for Review of the Reemployment Benefits Administrator's designee's (RBA designee) decision finding Employee ineligible for reemployment benefits was heard on February 2, 2012, in Fairbanks, Alaska. Employee appeared and was represented by his attorney Chancy Croft. Attorney Joseph Cooper represented Self-insured Employer Alaska Railroad Corporation and Pointsure (Employer). The hearing proceeded with a two-member panel, a quorum under AS 23.30.005(f). The record was held open to receive the Employee's physical capacities evaluation (PCE), which was received March 12, 2012. The record closed on April 6, 2012, when the panel reviewed the PCE and deliberated. ISSUES Employee contends the rehabilitation specialist used the incorrect job title of "seller/buyer" in assessing whether Employee was eligible for reemployment benefits. Employee contends he performed the duties of stocker, receiving and stocking goods, which involved heavy lifting, while working for Big Ray's and Prospector Outfitters. Employee contends he is incapable of performing the physical demands of all jobs he held in the ten years prior to his May 3, 2007 work injury and requests an order reversing the RBA designee's July 6, 2011 decision finding him ineligible for reemployment benefits. Employee further contends the RBA designee abused her discretion when she denied Employee's request for a formal conference with the RBA before issuing her determination on eligibility for reemployment benefits. Alternatively, Employee contends the RBA designee's July 6, 2011 decision was not complete, as "both sides point to errors," and "in the instance of justice and fairness to all sides," the eligibility determination should be remanded to the RBA designee for a full evaluation of all the relevant facts. Employer contends the reemployment specialist used the appropriate job descriptions and the RBA designee did not abuse her discretion in finding Employee ineligible for reemployment benefits. Employer further contends recent evidence discovered at Employee's January 11, 2012 deposition shows Employee is currently performing light duty work, performed light duty work in 1997, and is capable of performing light duty work. Employer seeks an order upholding the RBA designee's July 6, 2011 finding Employee is not eligible for reemployment benefits. 1) Did the RBA Designee abuse her discretion by finding Employee ineligible for reemployment benefits under AS 23.30.041(e)? 2) Shall the determination of ineligibility for reemployment benefits be remanded to the RBA designee for possible modification? FINDINGS OF FACT A review of the available record establishes the following facts and factual conclusions by a preponderance of the evidence: 1) On May 3, 2007, Employee felt a sharp pain and burning sensation in his left shoulder opening a valve with a steel pipe wrench while working for Employer. (Report of Occupational Injury or Illness, October 9, 2009). 2) On March 9, 2011, Workers Compensation Technician Debra Reed notified Employee Rehabilitation Specialist Connie Olson had been assigned to complete an evaluation to determine whether Employee was eligible for reemployment benefits. (D. Reed letter to Employee, March 9, 2011). 3) On April 19, 2011, Reemployment Specialist Connie Olson submitted her initial eligibility evaluation. Ms. Olson identified the jobs Employee had held in the 10 years preceding his injury as plumber, pipefitter, and sporting goods manager/buyer: EMPLOYMENT HISTORY 6/06-9/10 Employer: Alaska Railroad Corp. Plumber* DOT#:862.381-030 (see enclosed descr.) Physical Demands: Heavy Specific Vocational Preparation: (7) - Over 2 years and Pipefitter DOT#: 862.281-022 Physical Demands: Heavy Specific Vocational Preparation: (and) - Over 2 years *Mr. Huntley's duties included rough carpentry, hanging doors, cabinet installation, and welding on the section houses as well as plumbing duties. 9/05- 5/06 Pipefitter* DOT#:862.281-022 Employer: TIC (The Industrial company) Physical Demands: heavy Specific Vocational preparation: (and) - Over 2 years *Worked at Pogo Mine 6/99 - 9/05 Sporting goods manager/buyer Employer: Big Rays Store Salesperson, sporting goods DOT#: 277.357-058 Physical Demands: Light Specific Vocational Preparation: (5) - Over 6 months and Purchasing Agent DOT#: 162.157-038 Physical Demands: Light Specific Vocational Preparation: (7) - Over 2 years 6/97-6/99 Same job as above for Prospector Outfitters (C. Olson letter to M. Kemberling, April 19, 2011, at 3). 4) Based on her review of the medical records, case history and her interviews with Employee, the rehabilitation specialist concluded Employee's positions for Big Ray's and Prospector Outfitters were consistent with the combined titles of sporting goods manager/buyer...

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