Facts: Following a workplace injury that left him permanently disabled, respondent Jim Tobin was awarded workers’ compensation by the petitioner Department of Labor and Industries as well as collected a settlement that included damages for pain and suffering from a responsible third party tortfeasor as authorized by Washington Revised Code §51.24. The Department of Labor and Industries subsequently moved to reduce the amount of workers’ compensation awarded to Tobin by the full amount of the settlement. Tobin petitioned the Superior Court for Pierce County to reverse the Department of Labor and Industries’ decision. The trial court ruled that the Department of Labor and Industries could not include damages awarded to Tobin in the settlement for pain and suffering in its calculations adjusting the amount of workers’ compensation awarded to Tobin as the Department of Labor and Industries had not compensated Tobin for pain and suffering in its initial award. The Washington Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision. The Department of Labor and Industries appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Does §51.24 allow the Department of Labor and Industries to recoup damages for pain and suffering that are awarded to recipients of workmen’s compensation?
Conclusion: Chief Justice Madsen’s opinion for the Court affirmed the trial court’s decision, concluding that as workers’ compensation is intended to compensate injured workers for economic damages, the Department and Labor and Industries had not compensated Tobin for his pain and suffering and therefore could not use damages awarded to Tobin for pain and suffering to recalculate the amount of workers’ compensation owed to Tobin.
Petitioner: Department of Labor and Industries
(Counsel: Michael King Hall and Jay Douglas Geck)
Respondent: Jim Tobin
(Counsel: David W. Lauman and Philip Albert Talmadge)
- Amici of AWB and WSIA
- Amici of Awb Et Al
- Appellant Brief
- Appellant Supplemental Brief
- Corrected Statement of Additional Auth
- L and I Supplemental Brief
- Petition for Review
- Petitioner's Answer to Amici of WSLc, Et Al
- Reply to Answer
- Respondent Brief
- Respondent Tobin's Answer to Amici
- Respondent Tobin's Supplemental Brief
- Statement of Additional Auth
- Supplemental Brief of Respondent
- WSLc Amicus
- Wsajf Amicus
Argument: Monday, November 16, 2009 9:00am
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, August 12th, 2010
Prevailing Party: Jim Tobin (Respondent)
Court: Madsen1 Court (2010-)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.