ILNews

Justices: Act doesn't allow interest

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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Interest may not be calculated on workers' compensation benefits, including past-due medical bills, because Indiana legislation doesn't expressly allow for it, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today.

In Christopher R. Brown, D.D.S., Inc. v. Decatur County Memorial Hospital, No. 93S02-0711-EX-561, Dr. Christopher Brown appealed the decision by the full Workers' Compensation Board that he was not entitled to interest on past-due medical bills incurred from his treatment of a patient who was receiving workers' compensation benefits from Decatur County Memorial Hospital.

Indiana's Workers' Compensation Act doesn't address whether interest may be awarded on past-due benefits, so the Supreme Court looked to other jurisdictions' decisions on the matter. Some courts have held no interest is assessable on deferred payments without express authority from the legislature; others relied on their state's general-interest statutes.

The high court decided because the workers' compensation system is uniquely legislative in nature, appellate courts should be hesitant to apply provisions not expressly included in the statutory scheme, wrote Justice Robert Rucker.

"In plain terms, there is nothing in the Act that could be read to authorize an award of interest. If a policy consideration suggests that interest on worker's compensation awards should be allowed, then the legislature and not the courts should implement such a policy," he wrote.

The denial of Brown's request for interest doesn't violate Article I, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution, as Brown argued. There is nothing in the Workers' Compensation Act that prohibits Brown from negotiating with the hospital to include a provision in his contract to accept injured workers under the act and charge interest on past-due bills, wrote Justice Rucker.

"The different treatment accorded Dr. Brown is reasonably related to differences between healthcare providers who provide medical services to patients covered by the Act and those not so covered. As a result Dr. Brown has failed to support his claim that his Equal Privileges rights have been violated," he wrote.
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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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