STEPHEN A. SEARS Petitioner
TRAVELERS INSURANCE Respondent/Insurer for COULTER CORPORATION Employer.,
Submitted: April 27, 1998
ORDER AND FINAL JUDGMENT
Following the WCC's order denying summary judgment, which
held that Coles criteria were satisfied in connection with
respondent's termination of TTD benefits, and did not
apply to claimant's case in any event, both parties
proffered evidence they would produce at trial and asked the
Court whether these raised issues requiring trial.
None of the evidence offered by either party has any bearing
on the Court's decision that respondent's failure to
create a technically accurate job description does not
require extension of TTD benefits under the circumstances of
this case. Trial is not necessary and final judgment entered.
Summary Judgment: Motion for Summary
Judgment. Where motion for summary judgment may have
resolved all issues in the case, parties proffered evidence
they would introduce at trial and posed the question whether
this evidence would be material to any issue. The WCC ruled
that such evidence would not impact its determination on
summary judgment, which appeared dispositive of the case.
Final judgment entered.
This Court has previously entered orders denying summary
judgment and denying reconsideration of the order denying
summary judgment. Those orders determined that the
Coles criteria were satisfied in connection with
respondent's termination of temporary total disability
benefits and that, in any event, the Coles criteria
do not apply to claims arising on and after July 1, 1995.
The question now presented to the Court is what issues remain
to be determined. Following discussions with counsel for the
parties, the parties agreed to submit an offer of proof with
respect to the facts they would produce at any trial. On its
part, the Court agreed to rule whether the proffered facts
are material to the present controversy. After reviewing the
proffers, I find that they are not material and that final
judgment must be entered for respondent.
The evidence the petitioner would offer at trial is in
connection with his allegation that the insurer failed to
comply with the Coles criteria because the physician
who released him to his time-of-injury job did not have a
technically accurate job description for the job. Petitioner
previously offered, and the Court accepted as true, a
rehabilitation expert's affidavit verifying that the job
description provided to the releasing physician was
inaccurate. His additional evidence at trial would be that,
contrary to the job description actually furnished, the
claimant was required to lift "much more than 50 pounds
on the job."
The additional evidence would not affect the outcome in this
case. The Court has already found that an inaccurate job
description did not void the insurer's termination of
benefits. The additional evidence would only bolster
petitioner's contention that the job description was in
fact inaccurate, but no matter how much he bolsters that
contention, the Court has already determined that
Coles does not require an accurate job description
(at least where the job description is not deliberately
misleading or phony) and that Coles no longer
applies in any event.
Petitioner might still prevail in this case if he were to
offer evidence that at the time of the termination of his
benefits he had not reached maximum medical healing or, if he
had reached maximum medical healing, that he was unable to
return to any employment. However, he has not pursued either
ground and his proffer would be insufficient to establish
either of those two propositions.
On its part, the respondent would attempt to prove that any
error with regard to the release by Dr. McLean, which release
was a part of the Coles notice given petitioner, is
harmless since petitioner's treating physician, Dr.
Maxwell, had previously released claimant to work without
restrictions and with a zero percent impairment rating.
Respondent would further attempt to prove that its claims
adjuster was aware of Dr. Maxwell's release, relied upon
it in deciding to terminate benefits, and requested Dr.
McLean's evaluation only to "confirm the
finding." Finally, it would offer evidence which ...