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Luna v. Industrial Comm'n

Court of Appeals of Arizona, Second Division

December 22, 2014

ERNIE LUNA, JR., Petitioner Employee,
v.
THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION OF ARIZONA, Respondent, PIMA COUNTY, Respondent Employer, TRISTAR RISK MANAGEMENT, Respondent Insurer

SPECIAL ACTION -- INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION. ICA Claim No. 95136728090. Insurer No. WCPWC95WW00410. LuAnn Haley, Administrative Law Judge.

For Petitioner Employee: J. Patrick Butler, Tretschok, McNamara & Miller, P.C., Tucson.

For Respondent: Andrew F. Wade, The Industrial Commission of Arizona, Phoenix.

For Respondents Employer and Insurer: M. Ted Moeller, Tucson.

Presiding Judge Miller authored the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Judge Eckerstrom and Judge Espinosa concurred.

OPINION

Page 473

[236 Ariz. 431] MILLER, Presiding Judge:

[¶1] This statutory special action requires us to determine whether petitioner employee, Ernie Luna, Jr., is entitled to interest on temporary compensation benefits that were not timely paid to him. We conclude that Arizona law requires payment of the interest and therefore set aside the administrative law judge's (ALJ) award.

Factual and Procedural Background

[¶2] The following facts are undisputed. In May 1995, Luna was employed by Pima County Wastewater Management and suffered a compensable injury to his back. Respondents Pima County and Tristar Risk Management (collectively " Tristar" ) accepted the claim and paid benefits to Luna. Luna's claim was subsequently closed in 1999 and reopened in 2009. On March 30, 2011, Luna underwent an independent medical examination

Page 474

[236 Ariz. 432] and the examining physicians opined, " the medically stationary point of maximum medical improvement ha[d] been reached."

[¶3] In April 2011, Tristar issued a notice closing Luna's claim effective March 31, 2011, with a permanent disability. Luna protested the closure of his claim and in March 2012, after hearings on the matter, the administrative law judge (ALJ) issued a decision, awarding Luna temporary disability compensation benefits " from September 30, 2009 until such time as the condition is determined to be medically stationary." The Industrial Commission affirmed the ALJ's decision to keep the claim open, and this court affirmed the award on appeal. Pima County v. Indus. Comm'n, No. 2 CA-IC 2012-0007, ¶ 1, (memorandum decision filed Jan. 28, 2013).

[¶4] During the period that Luna was contesting Tristar's attempted closure of his claim, he had been receiving long-term disability benefits through the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS). ASRS had contracted with Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. for administration of the long-term disability income plan. Between March 31, 2011 and ...


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