eNotes: Workers’ Compensation – February 2022 – Maryland
February 21, 2022
SIGNIFICANT CASE SUMMARIES
MD CASE SUMMARY
Linda A. Sanders v. Board of Education of Harford County, et al
In the Court of Appeals of Maryland
Filed: December 17, 2021
A summary denial of a motion to reopen of modify under the Commission’s continuing jurisdiction is not subject to judicial review
In 2015, the Commission issued an Order denying a shoulder surgery. No appeal was taken. In 2018 Claimant sought payment of the bills for the shoulder surgery via a Motion to Reopen/Reconsider which was denied by the Commission on the next day. Claimant filed an appeal (#1). Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss which asserted that the WCC acted within its broad powers of discretion when it denied the Motion to Reconsider/Reopen deciding to leave the 2015 Order as it was. The Circuit Court dismissed Appeal #1. Three months later Claimant again filed a Motion to Reconsider/Reopen and again the WCC denied it the next day. Claimant again appealed (#2) the Commission’s denial of her (2nd) Motion to Reopen. The trial court heard Employer’s Motion to Dismiss in appeal #2 based on the same argument in appeal #1 that had prevailed in that appeal, but in appeal #2 the trial court denied the Motion to Dismiss AND granted Claimant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, and remanded the claim back to the Commission. The trial court directed the Commission to consider the Claimant’s Motion to Reconsider for the third time, and to articulate its decision in writing.
On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals found that the Commission has broad discretionary powers to grant or deny petitions to reopen/reconsider, and that a summary decision to deny a reopening/reconsideration is not subject to judicial review. It further found that the trial court erred when it ordered the Commission to consider the Claimant’s Motion to Reconsider for the 3rd time, and to articulate its decision in writing, concluding that this error strips the Commission of its authority to leave a previous order as is, and therefore must be overturned. The Court of Appeals granted an appeal.
If the Commission receives a request to reopen a claim, and it does not make findings as to any new evidence or the propriety of an earlier Order, it considers no evidence and holds no hearing, and then denies the request to reopen, this is a summary denial to reopen under LE 9-736(b), and as such is not subject to judicial review.
A summary denial by the Commission of a Claimant’s Motion to Reconsider/Reopen is not subject to judicial review as the Commission has broad discretion to choose to leave a previous decision as is, and not reopen or reconsider it. A summary denial is one that is not preceded by findings based on testimony or evidence and makes no ruling on the propriety or sufficiency of prior orders.
Questions about this case can be directed to Ruth Jacobs, Esquire, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (443) 641-0573.