from the Indiana Worker's Compensation Board The
Honorable Linda Peterson Hamilton, Chairperson Application
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.
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. 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%.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)