June 3, 2016
Petition for Review from an Order of the Compensation Review
Michael J. McAuliffe for petitioner.
E. Pittman, Assistant Attorney General, with whom Karl A.
Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd
S. Kim, Solicitor General, and Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy
Solicitor General, were on the brief, for respondent.
BEFORE: EASTERLY and MCLEESE, Associate Judges; and NEBEKER,
case came to be heard on the administrative record, a
certified copy of the agency hearing transcript and the
briefs filed, and was argued by counsel. On consideration
whereof, and as set forth in the opinion filed this date, it
is now hereby
and ADJUDGED that the matter is remanded to the Compensation
Review Board so it can address the merits of the
Administrative Law Judge's determination that
petitioner's right knee condition was causally related to
her January 2011 workplace injury.
Josephine Reyes, the petitioner, is challenging the
Compensation Review Board's (CRB) determination that a
Department of Employment Services (DOES) Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) lacked jurisdiction to consider her claim, based
on an injury to her right knee, for workers' compensation
benefits under the Public Sector Workers' Compensation
Program ("the Program"). Although Dr. Reyes had
given the Program notice of other claims in connection with a
workplace injury, she did not give notice of her right knee
claim. Nonetheless the Program reviewed the right knee claim
and determined that it was not causally related to her work
place injury, denying her benefits. The DOES ALJ reversed
this determination. The CRB then reversed the DOES ALJ,
concluding that the ALJ did not have jurisdiction under D.C.
Code § 1-623.24 (b)(1) (2014 Repl.) to hear this claim,
even though the Program actually adversely decided the causal
relationship issue, because petitioner had not given the
Program proper notice of that claim. We conclude that the
CRB, mistakenly relying on an inapposite and unpublished
decision from this court, misinterpreted the jurisdictional
requirements of D.C. Code § 1-623.24 (b)(1). Thus we
reverse and remand.
January 2011, Dr. Reyes, a psychiatrist at St. Elizabeths
Hospital, suffered a workplace injury after she was attacked
by a patient. She filed a claim for temporary total
disability benefits with the Program and provided written
notice of multiple injuries to her face, head, and back, but
did not at the outset note her right knee pain. Dr. Reyes was
awarded temporary total disability benefits. Dr. Reyes did
not return to work until August 2011; thereafter she was
notified that her disability benefits had been terminated.
October 2012, Dr. Reyes received notice that the Program was
closing her workers' compensation claim and that all
benefits would be terminated. The Program relied primarily on
an independent medical examination conducted by Dr. Stanley
Rothschild, who assessed Dr. Reyes's assertion that her
right knee was injured in connection with the assault on
January 2011. Dr. Rothschild opined that Dr. Reyes's
"current complications to the knee [were not] related to
the accident." After the Program denied her workers'
compensation benefits on this basis, Dr. Reyes requested
reconsideration. The Program denied her request for
reconsideration, issuing a Final Decision upholding its
determination to terminate her benefits.
Reyes requested and received a formal hearing before a DOES
ALJ. The ALJ issued an order concluding that Dr. Reyes's
right knee condition was causally related to the January 2011
work incident and ordering continued payment of benefits. The
District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General (OAG), on
behalf of Dr. Reyes's employer, the Department of Mental
Health (DMH), appealed to the CRB, arguing that the ALJ had
no jurisdiction to make such a ...