This is the second of two successful appeals to the Wyoming Supreme Court involving our client, Tyler Stallman, in pursuit of benefits that she was eligible for related to her Workers` Compensation claim for Permanent Total Disability.
Appellant Tyler L. Stallman worked for the Wyoming Department of Corrections
at the Wyoming Women’s Center in Lusk, Wyoming. She sustained significant injuries during a vehicle rollover while driving to pick up a prisoner in Sheridan. Ms. Stallman suffered from multiple pelvic fractures, pulmonary and bodily contusions, a chipped tooth, and an impacted humeral head fracture of the right shoulder. A doctor’s notes indicated that “[t]he accident appears to have been quite significant.” Ms. Stallman was hospitalized for a week, during which her pelvic fractures were stabilized. She later underwent several surgeries, including a rhinoplasty1 and a resurfacing arthroplasty of the right shoulder. After she was released from WMC, Ms. Stallman attended physical therapy and counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and she participated in several years of post-operative care and rehabilitation.
After receiving a 22% permanent partial impairment award from the Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division (the Division), she applied for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. The Division denied her application, finding that she did not meet the statutory definition of permanent total disability. Ms. Stallman requested a contested case hearing, and the case was referred to a panel of the Medical Commission (the Commission or panel).
Following the hearing and based upon the evidence presented, the Commission concluded that Ms. Stallman did not meet her burden of proving that she was entitled to PTD benefits under the odd lot doctrine. The decision was appealed to the district court which affirmed the Commission. We appealed to the Wyoming Supreme Court, claiming that the Commission’s final order was unsupported by substantial evidence and contrary to applicable law due to improper application of the odd lot doctrine.
The Supreme Court held that Ms. Stallman presented a prima facie case showing that she was unemployable in her community due to her injuries, and that the Division failed to rebut this showing by demonstrating that there was in fact gainful employment available to her within a reasonable geographic area. The Court reversed the district court’s order affirming the Commission’s final order, and remanded this matter to the district court with directions that it remand the case to the Commission for an award of Permanent Total Disability.
See 2013 WY 28 (Wyo. 2013).