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Judges reverse dismissal of application to adjust claim

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the decision by the full Worker’s Compensation Board that a medical services provider’s application for an adjustment of claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations found in Indiana Code Section 22-3-3-3. The appellate court relied on a recent decision involving a similar scenario to make its ruling.

An employee of International Entertainment Consultants was injured during the course of his employment in 2005 and Indiana Spine Group PC provided medical services to him. Consultants’ insurer only paid a portion of the bill in 2006. In 2009, Indiana Spine filed an application for adjustment of claim with the Worker’s Compensation Board to be paid for the entire amount charged. Consultants filed a motion to dismiss because it believed the claim was barred by a two-year statute of limitation based on I.C. Section 22-3-3-3.

The full board affirmed the single hearing member’s grant of the motion to dismiss. It reasoned that the medical provider’s fee claim is derivative of the underlying injury claim and declined to apply any of the general statutes of limitation found in I.C. Chapter 34-11-2.

In Indiana Spine Group, P.C. v. International Entertainment Consultants, No. 93A02-1007-EX-764, the Court of Appeals relied on its recent ruling in Indiana Spine Group v. Pilot Travel Centers, 931 N.E.2d 435, 438 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010), to reverse. In that opinion, the judges found that the Worker’s Compensation Act is silent on the statute of limitations applicable to claims involving pecuniary liability of employers to medical service providers, but held that neither of the statute of limitations contained in the act – I.C. Sections 22-3-3-3 and -27 - applied to a medical service provider’s claim for pecuniary liability.

Consultants argued that Pilot was wrongly decided and I.C. Section 22-3-3-3 does apply to a medical service provider’s claim because its plain language makes it applicable to all claims for compensation under the act. It also argued that medical services are included in the term “compensation,” but cited no authority suggesting that “pecuniary liability” is included within the term “compensation,” wrote Judge Terry Crone.

“On the contrary, treating these terms as interchangeable would produce illogical and unjust results. In Pilot, we noted that the Act ‘specifically envisioned’ that ‘an employee could very well receive medical services up to the end of the two-year statutory period,’” he wrote. “Although Pilot was discussing the two-year period in Indiana Code Section 22-3-3-27, the reasoning applies with equal force to Section 22-3-3-3. As in Pilot, we ‘fail to see the wisdom of tying a medical service provider’s ability to seek full payment due under the Act’ to a date that has no significance to the medical service provider’s claim.”

Indiana Spine argued to the full board that either the six-year statute of limitation for actions on accounts or the 10-year statute of limitation for actions that are not limited by any other statute should apply. Since the provider’s claim would be timely under either of those statutes of limitation and no argument has been advanced for the application of any other statute of limitation, the judges held the board erred by dismissing the application. They remanded for further proceedings.

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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