Employment & Labor Law 

This summary also appears under Workers' Compensation

 

Issues: Worker's Disability Compensation Act (WDCA)(MCL 418.801 et seq.); Location of workers' compensation hearings; MCL 418.851; "Mandamus"; State Bd. of Educ. v. Houghton Lake Cmty. Schs.; Franchise Realty Interstate Corp. v. Detroit; In re MCI Telecom Complaint; Toan v. McGinn; Teasel v. Department of Mental Health; Creation of workers' compensation system; McAvoy v. H B Sherman Co.; Lahti v. Fosterling; Statutory interpretation; Wolfe-Haddad Estate v. Oakland Cnty.; Department of Labor & Econ. Growth, Unemployment Ins. Agency v. Dykstra; In re Bradley Estate; Johnson v. Recca; "Shall" defined; Manuel v. Gill; "Local" defined; Tribbett v. Village of Marcellus; Deference to the Legislature; Karaczewski v. Farbman Stein & Co.; Bezeau v. Palace Sports & Entm't, Inc.

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Published)

Case Name: Younkin v. Zimmer

e-Journal Number: 56880

Judge(s): M.J. Kelly and Fort Hood; Dissent – Cavanagh

 

The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it issued a writ of mandamus compelling the defendants (workers' compensation agency directors) to order their agencies to comply with the geographic limitations for holding workers' compensation hearings stated in MCL 418.851. Plaintiff, a General Motors employee, filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits with the workers' compensation office in Flint. Defendants subsequently closed the Flint office and transferred all claims to Dimondale. Plaintiff then sued, claiming the Legislature required all hearings on workers' compensation claims be held in the locality where the injury occurred. The trial court issued a writ of mandamus, finding that the move to Dimondale exceeded the geographic limitations and that defendants lacked the authority to order the hearings to be held in a locality other than the locality where the injury occurred. On appeal, the court first held that, "to the extent that magistrates who conduct workers' compensation hearings are violating the statutory provisions governing those hearings," defendants "would have a clear legal duty to rectify the violations." The court also deferred to the Legislature, noting it "made a made a clear policy choice in favor of local hearings; it required magistrates to resolve disputes over workers' compensation claims by holding a hearing 'at the locality where the injury occurred.'" It found that "although the failure to hold such hearings at the locality will not 'void' the result, that fact does not give magistrates the unfettered discretion to ignore the Legislature's directive that the hearings be held in the locality where the injury occurred." It concluded that "claimants whose injuries occurred within Genesee County have a clear legal right to have disputes over their claims resolved at hearings held within that locality," and defendants "have a clear legal duty to ensure that the magistrates who fall under their authority comply with MCL 418.851 and hold the hearings to resolve those disputes in the locality where the injury occurred." Accordingly, because "the trial court properly construed MCL 418.851 as granting claimants a clear legal right to hearings in the locality where the injury occurred and as imposing a clear legal duty on [defendants] to ensure that the hearings occur in such localities, it did not abuse its discretion when it chose to grant [plaintiff's] request for a writ of mandamus compelling [defendants] to ensure that the magistrates complied with MCL 418.851." Affirmed.

 

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