Godinez v. SAIF

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 03-11-2015
  • Case #: A152746
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: DeVore, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; & Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

An agency is entitled to deference when it makes a plausible interpretation of its own rule, even when the interpretation is made in the course of applying the rule, so long as it is not inconsistent with the wording of the rule or other source law.

The Workers’ Compensation Division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) rejected Godinez’ request for compensation for a chronic condition resulting from Godinez’ repetitive use of his left shoulder. This rejection was affirmed by an administrative law judge and again upheld by the Worker’s Compensation Board. Godinez appealed. Godinez worked as a siding installer and was injured by falling off of a ladder. After surgery, he was unable to lift more than fifteen pounds or anything above his head. This rendered him unable to perform his regular job duties. The SAIF board refused to award him chronic condition impairment value. Godinez believed that the board and the Appellate Review Unit (APU) of DCBS misinterpreted OAR 436-035-0007. The APU maintained a condition must impair multiple motions, rather than just one shoulder motion, to be considered chronic under that rule. SAIF also maintained that its interpretation of the rule deserves deference because it is the authorized representative of the Director of DCBS. The Court held that, because the interpretation of the rule as applied in Godinez’ case is plausible, it is entitled to deference. The interpretation was deemed plausible after the Court considered its text, its context, and other provisions of the rule. Affirmed.

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