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Petock v. Asante

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-30-2011
Case #: S059046
Kistler, J. for the Court; De Muniz, C.J.; Durham, J.; Balmer, J.; Walters, J.; & Linder, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S059046.pdf

Workers Compensation: For the purposes of determining reinstatement and reemployment rights of an employee recovering from a workers' compensation injury, the proper questions to ask are 1) did the claimant suffer a compensable injury, and 2) did the injury occur within the three-year statute of limitations period.

Petock injured her knee at work on September 17, 2002 and filed a workers' compensation claim that her employer accepted. Petock sustained further injury to her knee while at work on July 13, 2005 and filed another workers' compensation claim for an aggravation of her prior compensable injury. Employer, thereafter, refused to reinstate the Petock to her position in January of 2006, arguing that the statute of limitations for a demand of reinstatement was three years from the compensable injury. Petock argued that the aggravation of the 2002 injury in 2005 gave rise to a new three-year statute of limitations, or, alternatively, that a reasonable inference could be made that the 2005 injury was a new and separate injury, thus warranting a new three-year statue of limitations. The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that an aggravation of an existing injury did not give rise to a new statute of limitations period. However, it remanded to determine if the 2005 a new and separate injury, which would indeed warrant a statute of limitations period. The Supreme Court held that only a "compensable injury" can give rise to reinstatement of employment. Thus, the Court determined that the proper question was whether a claimant suffered a compensable injury in 2005, and not whether aggravated injuries should or should not be excluded by statute of limitations. The Court held that a reasonable juror could conclude that Petock had indeed suffered a compensable injury. Affirmed.