Michigan Court of Appeals Holds Workers’ Compensation Court Applied Incorrect Legal Standard
Plaintiff Robert Florian suffered a severe leg injury while working as a logger. A magistrate determined that he was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because he suffered a disability in the course of his employment. Rather than considering whether the magistrate’s decision was supported by the evidence, the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission (MCAC) employed de novo review and reversed the magistrate’s award of benefits beyond March 2010. The Michigan Appeals Court held that despite the court’s use of an incorrect standard, the MCAC correctly determined that Florian was an employee rather than an independent contractor and affirmed on that issue.The appeals court, however, reversed the portion of the MCAC’s opinion concluding that Florian failed to establish a prima facie case of disability under relevant case law. The appeals court also reversed the MCAC’s ruling that limited Florian’s benefits. However, the MCAC aptly determined that remand to the magistrate for the recalculation of Florian’s applicable wage was required. As a result, the appeals court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded to the magistrate for further proceedings.