MARY BETH SKIC, Employee/Petitioner, v. BEVERAGE TRANSP. CORP., UNINSURED, Employer, and MN DEP=T OF ECON. SEC./RI, Intervenor, and SPECIAL COMP. FUND.
WORKERS= COMPENSATION COURT OF APPEALS
OCTOBER 6, 2005
VACATION OF AWARD. The employee failed to establish good cause for vacating a compensation judge=s decision that denied the employee=s claims.
Petition to vacate findings and order denied.
Determined by: Stofferahn, J., Rykken, J., and Johnson, C.J.
Attorneys: Mary Beth Skic, pro se Employee. Sara J. Stoltman, Special Comp. Fund, St. Paul, MN.
DAVID A. STOFFERAHN, Judge
The employee has petitioned to vacate Findings and Order issued in this matter on January 25, 1995. The petition is denied.
On January 10, 1986, Mary Beth Skic was employed as a truck driver for Beverage Transportation Corporation. The employee claims that on that date she was driving a truck trailer on a bumpy road in Pennsylvania when she struck a large bump in the highway that caused her to hit her head on the top of the cab. The employee later claimed that she was permanently totally disabled and was entitled to workers= compensation benefits as the result of this injury. The employer was uninsured for workers compensation liability and defense of the employer=s claims was assumed by the Special Compensation Fund.
The employee=s claims were heard by a compensation judge on December 8, 1994. In her Findings and Order, served and filed January 25, 1995, the compensation judge denied the employee=s claims. The compensation judge concluded that the employee had failed to prove that she had sustained a work injury on January 10, 1986, and had failed to prove that she was permanently totally disabled. In her findings and in her memorandum, the compensation judge referred to the lack of medical treatment from January 1986 until June 1987, the employee=s continued employment as a driver for the employer until she was terminated for reasons unrelated to her medical condition, the absence of objective medical findings before late 1989, and the employee=s failure to engage in any job search. The employee appealed to this court.
On appeal, the employee, now acting pro se, argued that her attorney had failed to take the deposition of the passenger in her truck at the time of the January 1986 incident who would have been able to substantiate her history of the incident. The employee considered this evidence important and critical to her case. The employee also argued the circumstances of her claimed injury and the consequences of that injury, including her inability to return to work. This court concluded that substantial evidence supported the compensation judge=s denial of the employee=s claims and the compensation judge=s decision was affirmed.
On April 29, 2005, the employee filed with this court her petition to vacate the January 25, 1995, Findings and Order. The employee alleged the following reasons as a basis for her petition:
A. Substantial change in condition (medical)
B. Deposition/attorney disbarred (never got it)
C. Change in disability, ability to work and medical expenses.
The Special Compensation Fund has objected to the employee=s petition.
The authority of this court to vacate or set aside the decision of a compensation judge is established and limited by statute. Under Minn. Stat. ' 176.461, this court may set aside an award only for good cause. Cause is defined by the statute and is limited to:
1. a mutual mistake of fact;
2. newly discovered evidence;
3. fraud; or
4. a substantial change in medical condition that was clearly not anticipated.
The material and arguments submitted by the employee do not meet any of the definitions of cause set out in the statute. The employee has presented various medical records to establish that there has been a substantial change in her medical condition. However, the question of whether the employee=s medical condition has changed is irrelevant at this point. In the 1995 Findings and Order, the compensation judge decided that the employee=s medical condition in 1994 was not the result of a work injury, and this court found substantial evidence in the record which supported that decision. Even if we were to agree with the employee that her medical condition has changed, and the records the employee has submitted would seem to indicate that this is the case, the determination that this condition is not the result of a work injury remains. The material submitted by the employee which deals with her present medical condition does not authorize this court to reverse the compensation judge=s decision.
The employee also argues that she did not receive adequate legal representation at the hearing. The employee raised this issue in her appeal in 1995. This court did not accept her argument as providing a basis for reversal of the compensation judge=s decision. With her current petition the employee presents the same material with the added information that her previous attorney was the subject of professional discipline in 2002. That information does not establish inadequate representation in 1994. More importantly, lack of legal representation or legal representation that is arguably inadequate is not one of the definitions of good cause which authorizes this court to vacate an award.
In summary, the information submitted by the employee, while possibly showing a worsening of her medical condition, does not affect or change the compensation judge=s conclusion that the employee did not sustain a work injury which resulted in disability. The employee=s claim that she was not adequately represented by her attorney at the hearing in 1994 was considered by this court in 1995 as part of the review of the employee=s appeal and is not good cause to vacate a compensation judge=s decision. We recognize that the employee disagrees with the result of the hearing in 1994 and believes that she should have won her claim. Unfortunately, however, there is a losing party in every litigated case. Unhappiness with the result of a hearing or a conviction that the result was unfair does not establish good cause for vacating an award. The employee has not established good cause as required by the statute, and we deny the employee=s petition to vacate.
 Skic v. Beverage Transp. Corp., 53 W.C.D. 424 (W.C.C.A. 1995). A detailed recitation of the evidence and the employee=s claims may be found in the decision.