Sather v. SAIF

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Workers Compensation
  • Date Filed: 04-09-2015
  • Case #: S062466
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 656.218, a worker’s estate may receive an award of benefits if the worker died prior to a final determination of benefits and in the absence of persons otherwise eligible to receive them, but if the estate is not satisfied, it cannot pursue a claim.

Sather’s estate appealed the Court of Appeals’ denial of its motion to substitute. Sather had sought review of the Workers’ Compensation Board’s denial of benefits, but died of causes unrelated to his workplace injury before the court reached a decision. Sather had neither a surviving spouse, nor other beneficiary entitled to his death benefits. SAIF filed a motion to dismiss the petition for judicial review, which the court granted. Sather’s estate appealed that decision. The Court held that “persons” included a worker’s estate and that the phrase “unpaid balance of the award” did not restrict an estate’s entitlement to benefits awarded before the worker’s death; the word “person” encompasses its ordinary meaning, which includes and estate, but if the estate is not satisfied with the benefits it is entitled to receive, it may not pursue a claim for more. The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded to that court for a determination of the merits of the petition for judicial review.

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