Walker v. Providence Health System Oregon

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Workers Compensation
  • Date Filed: 11-19-2014
  • Case #: A148303
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Wollheim, J. for the Court; Nakamoto, P.J.; & Haselton, C.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 656.262(11)(a), unreasonable delay in accepting a claim for a "major depression and panic disorder" was grounds for imposition of penalties and attorney fees.

Walker was wrongfully disciplined when she worked for Providence; this caused her to suffer mental stress, “including panic attacks, anxiety, chest pains, and headaches.” Providence denied her claim and Walker requested a hearing at which an administrative law judge set aside Providence’s denial. Over the next several years, doctors reclassified her worsening condition against Providence’s objections to coverage. Eventually, this dispute came before the Workers’ Compensation Board which determined Providence was entitled to an independent medical examination and suspended Walker’s benefits until she submitted; however, the Board further determined that there were benefits owed to Walker at the time of closure. On appeal, the Court held Walker was entitled to a penalty from Providence due to their “unreasonable delay in the acceptance” of her “major depression and panic disorder.” The Court affirmed the Board’s determination that Walker was entitled to benefits despite suspension, but reversed the Boards determination that Providence failure to pay benefits was an unreasonable resistance to payment of compensation, concluding that Walker was entitled to penalties and attorney fees. In A148303, remanded for an award of a penalty for employer's unreasonable delay in the acceptance of claimant's “major depression and panic disorder”; affirmed on cross-petition. In A149021, affirmed on petition; reversed on cross-petition for assessment of a penalty and attorney fees for employer's unreasonable resistance to payment of compensation.

Advanced Search