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Midwest Equipment & Supply Co. v. Garwood

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 16, 2017

Midwest Equipment & Supply Co., Appellant-Respondent,
v.
James Garwood, Appellee-Claimant

         Appeal from the Indiana Worker's Compensation Board The Honorable Linda Peterson Hamilton, Chairperson Application No. C-229439

          Attorneys for Appellant Donald S. Smith Laura S. Reed Miranda W. Bernadac Riley Bennett Egloff LLP Indianapolis, Indiana.

          Attorney for Appellee Nathan B. Maudlin Klezmer Maudlin, P.C. New Harmony, Indiana.

          BAKER, JUDGE.

         [¶1] James Garwood was an employee of Midwest Equipment & Supply Co. (Midwest) when he was injured on the job. He was awarded worker's compensation benefits pursuant to the Worker's Compensation Act.[1] Midwest appeals the award Garwood received, arguing that the Worker's Compensation Board (the Board) erred when it determined that Garwood's two bonuses should be considered earnings for purposes of calculating Garwood's average weekly wage, a calculation that determined the amount of benefits Garwood received. Garwood argues that this Court should affirm the Board's decision and increase his award pursuant to the Act. Finding no error with the Board's decision and that Garwood is entitled to an increased award, we affirm the Board's decision and remand with instructions to increase Garwood's award by 5%.

         Facts

         [¶2] Garwood began working at Midwest in 2004 as a shipping and receiving clerk. He received a promotion to warehouse supervisor in 2013. On November 1, 2013, Garwood received a $20, 000 profit sharing bonus. Midwest's profit sharing bonus is tied to the company's profits. On April 4, 2014, Garwood received a $1, 750 shipping bonus. The shipping bonus is tied to the work an individual performs in the warehouse. On July 24, 2014, Garwood suffered an injury while unloading cargo at work.

         [¶3] At some point, Garwood filed a claim for worker's compensation benefits. Following his filing, Midwest calculated Garwood's average weekly wages using the regular wages Garwood earned in the fifty-two weeks immediately preceding his injury. Midwest did not include Garwood's two bonuses in this calculation.

         [¶4] On March 14, 2016, Garwood filed an application for adjustment of his claim. On November 7, 2016, a hearing was conducted before a hearing member of the Board regarding, in part, whether Garwood's bonuses should have been included in Midwest's calculations of his average weekly wages. On December 8, 2016, the hearing member determined that Garwood's shipping bonus of $1, 750 and profit sharing bonus of $20, 000 should have been included in the calculation, and the hearing member awarded Garwood additional benefits as a result of that determination.

         [¶5] On January 9, 2017, Midwest appealed the hearing member's order to the full Board. On March 13, 2017, a hearing took place with the full Board. On April 28, 2017, the full Board affirmed the hearing member's opinion. Midwest now appeals.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶6] Midwest argues that the Board erred when it included Garwood's bonuses in its calculations of Garwood's average weekly wages. Our standard of review of a decision of the Board is well established:

In reviewing a worker's compensation decision, an appellate court is bound by the factual determinations of the Board and may not disturb them unless the evidence is undisputed and leads inescapably to a contrary conclusion. We examine the record only to determine whether there are any substantial evidence and reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom to support the Board's findings and conclusion. As to the Board's interpretation of the law, an appellate court employs a deferential standard of review to the interpretation of a statute by an administrative agency charged with its enforcement in light of its expertise in the given area. The Board will only be reversed if it incorrectly interpreted the Worker's Compensation Act.

Christopher R. Brown, D.D.S., Inc. v. Decatur Cty. Mem'l Hosp., 892 N.E.2d 642, 646 (Ind. 2008) (internal ...


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