Healing Period: Who Determines When This is Reached and When is TTD Owed?

In its recent decision in Wittmann v. Consolidated Lumber Co., et al, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals determined that the weight and credibility of medical evidence, as applied to worker’s compensation and employment matters, is to be determined by the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC), not by the reviewing courts.  The court expressly adopted LIRC’s determination of factual findings and conclusions of law regarding a disputed healing period and disability benefits determination.

This is a significant decision, given the recent budget proposals advocating the minimization of LIRC regarding worker’s compensation matters.  Additionally, this decision provides clear guidance on the interpretation of compensability of injuries as they relate to salaried employees who do not require work restrictions, as well as on disputed end of healing determinations.

The court based its decision on the on the Brakebush Bros decision (210 Wis. 2d at 630), stating “the weight and credibility of medical evidence are to be determined by LIRC, and not by the reviewing court.”  The Court of Appeals expressly adopted the findings of LIRC, not the Circuit Court citing the above case.  The Court stated LIRC’s findings regarding healing period determinations when supported by substantial evidence in the record, are to be given weight, even when continued treatment is sought for other problems regarding the same body part, although separate from the claimed injury.

Further, it determined that when no work restrictions are imposed and there are no lost wages during the healing period, a claim for disability benefits based outside the healing period is not a sustainable argument.  The mere fact that an employee continues to seek treatment after the healing period ends, is not a sufficient eligibility determination for temporary total disability benefits.

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Does Appointing a Registered Agent Constitute Consent to General Jurisdiction in Wisconsin?

In Ambac, et al v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., the Supreme Court of WI determined a foreign corporation’s compliance with Wis. Stat §180.1507 and §180.1510 did not subject the corporation to general jurisdiction in WI.

In a complaint filed in 2014, Ambac alleged it incurred substantial liability due to Countrywide’s misrepresentation of mortgage backed securities.  Countrywide moved to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction.  Ambac argued Countrywide consented to general jurisdiction in WI when it appointed a registered agent under Wis. Stat. §180.1507 and §180.1510.

The question before the Court was whether or not compliance with §180.1507 constituted consent to general jurisdiction in WI, as argued by Ambac.  The Court disagreed with Ambac’s interpretation, stating that general jurisdiction cannot be read into §180.1507 and §180.1510 by the Court without expanding the meaning of the statute to the point that the Court would essentially be redrafting the statutes, a task not meant for them.  The text of the statutes in question were devoid of any language regarding either consent or jurisdiction, and thus must be read that way.

Further, the Court stated reading in registered agent appointments as consent to general jurisdiction would eliminate the need to establish grounds for specific jurisdiction under Wis. Stat. §801.05(1)(d), and thus make a foreign corporation’s contacts with the State irrelevant as long as it registered an agent for service of process, which all foreign corporations are required to do in order to transact business in Wisconsin.

For additional information, here is the link: https://www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=192346

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