What is a “writ of mandamus”?
In Latin, it means “we command” or “we order.” A court issues a writ of mandamus to an official compelling performance of an act that the law recognizes as an absolute duty, as opposed to other types of acts that are discretionary.
In the context of a workers’ compensation case, my office typically pursues a mandamus lawsuit when the Industrial Commission of Ohio has “abused its discretion” when denying medical benefits or compensation in an allowed claim. Although a mandamus action can be filed in a court of common pleas or in the Supreme Court of Ohio, we usually file the case in the Tenth District Court of Appeals, Franklin County.
Just last week, my office filed a mandamus lawsuit in the case of State ex rel. Schmidt v. Indus. Comm., et al., Franklin App.No. 17AP-123. In this case, Mr. Schmidt was in need of surgery, but the self-insured employer denied surgery and Mr. Schmidt’s request for a further allowance of a disc herniation in his neck for which surgery needed to be performed. The Industrial Commission approved both requests. However, when Mr. Schmidt then asked to be paid temporary total disability compensation (TTD) for a past period of time when he was off work because he was waiting for the disc herniation and the surgery to be approved, the Industrial Commission denied TTD.
We are pursuing a mandamus action because we believe the Industrial Commission abused its discretion when it approved the additional condition and surgery, but not TTD compensation while Mr. Schmidt was fighting those issues at hearings. We are asking the Court of Appeals to “command” or “order” the Industrial Commission to award TTD to Mr. Schmidt because he could not work while the disc herniation and surgery were being opposed by the self-insured employer.
Similarly, mandamus actions can be used for other issues in workers’ compensation claims. For any issue involving “extent of disability” in a workers’ compensation claim, the aggrieved party (injured worker or employer) can file a mandamus lawsuit. The party must exhaust all of their administrative appeals before filing the mandamus lawsuit and they must be prepared to show that the Industrial Commission “abused its discretion.”
If you believe the Industrial Commission wrongly denied medical benefits or compensation in your workers’ compensation claim, a mandamus action may be an appropriate remedy for you. Alternatively, there may be another way to accomplish your goal of getting medical services or compensation paid. For instance, if the Industrial Commission denied medical services or compensation because treatment or compensation was being requested for a non-allowed condition, you may want to try getting the condition additionally allowed first and then submitting a new request for treatment or compensation based upon the newly allowed additional condition.
My office is happy to discuss the specifics of your case if you believe your medical services or compensation were wrongly denied by the Industrial Commission of Ohio. Please call us at 614-221-1300 for more information.