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Justices rule on applicable statute of limitations

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The Indiana Supreme Court decided Thursday that the period within the general statute of limitations controls the limitation period when a medical provider may seek payment of outstanding bills for authorized treatment to an employer’s worker. The justices came to that conclusion after finding the Worker’s Compensation Act is silent on what the applicable limitation period is for this matter.

Pilot Travel Center’s employee Anthony Wetnight was injured at work in August 2003 and Pilot authorized Wetnight to receive medical treatment from Indiana Spine Group in July and October 2004. Pilot only made partial payments to the balance of Wetnight’s treatment, with the last payment coming in June 2008. ISG sought payment of the remaining balance in June 2009 by filing an application for adjustment of claim for provider’s fee with the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board. Pilot argued that ISG filed the claim outside the statute of limitations in Indiana Code 22-3-3-27 listed under the Worker’s Compensation Act, and that it had to file the application within two years after the date Pilot last paid Wetnight compensation.

The full Worker’s Compensation Board affirmed the decision to dismiss ISG’s application. ISG appealed, and the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed, finding neither I.C. 22-3-3-3 or -27 in the Worker’s Compensation Act applied.

In Indiana Spine Group, PC v. Pilot Travel Centers, LLC, 93S02-1102-EX-90, the justices reversed the board’s decision, holding that I.C. 22-3-3-3 and -27 do not apply and therefore don’t bar ISG’s claim. Nothing in the Worker’s Compensation Act indicates that the time limitation on a health care provider’s claim for unpaid bills is connected to the time limitation on an employee’s claim for compensation, wrote Justice Robert Rucker. Section 27’s limitation is for modification of awards due to a “change in conditions,” and the two-year period begins to run on the last day for which compensation is paid to an injured employee. However, in the instant case, there are not changed conditions requiring modification to Wetnight’s award.

“The issue presented in ISG’s Application is the pecuniary liability of ISG and not whether the bills must be paid at all,” wrote Rucker. “Further, we agree with the observations from the Court of Appeals that the application of section 22-3-3-27 in ‘this context could lead to absurd results.’”

The justices found ISG’s claim to be timely under I.C. 34-11-1-2, the general statute of limitation, which says a cause of action that isn’t limited by another statute must be brought within 10 years. They remanded the cause for further proceedings. Based on their decision Thursday, Rucker noted that the justices have denied the pending transfer petitions of five other cases involving similar issues with ISG as a party.  
 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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