Opinion No. 51
from the Industrial Commission of the State of Idaho.
order of the Industrial Commission is affirmed.
& Larsen, Chartered, Pocatello, for appellant. Reed
Benoit, Alexander, Harwood, High & Mollerup, PLLC, Twin
Falls, for respondent. Bren Mollerup argued.
an appeal from the Industrial Commission. Steven Andrews
filed for workers' compensation benefits after he fell
from a ladder in 2009 while working for the Corporation of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS Church).
Andrews sought to establish that the Idaho Industrial Special
Indemnity Fund (ISIF) was liable pursuant to Idaho Code
section 72-332. Following a hearing and consideration of
post-hearing depositions, the referee issued his Findings of
Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation on May 10, 2016.
The referee concluded that Andrews failed to show that ISIF
was liable because the evidence showed that any pre-existing
physical impairments did not constitute a subjective
hindrance and that Andrews failed to show that his
pre-existing impairments combined with the industrial
accident to cause his total and permanent disability. In an
order of the same date as the referee's recommendation,
the Commission adopted the recommendation. Andrews timely
appealed, arguing that the Commission's order was not
supported by substantial and competent evidence. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
was injured when he fell from a ladder in March 2009. Andrews
was 53 years old and employed by the LDS Church as a mechanic
at the time of the accident. Andrews had been employed by the
LDS Church since 1988. Andrews was responsible for
maintaining between 32 and 42 buildings for the LDS Church.
Andrews graduated from Marsh Valley High School in 1977 and
held a variety of jobs before being hired by the LDS Church.
accident that led to Andrews filing this claim occurred on
March 17, 2009. Andrews fell from a 12-foot upper mezzanine
and landed on his shoulders on a stage. This accident
required Andrews to have surgery on his lower back. Following
the surgery, the LDS Church terminated Andrews'
employment because they could no longer employ him due to his
restrictions and physical disabilities. After losing his job,
Andrews unsuccessfully attempted to find another job. Andrews
had problems with his feet, knees, lower back, shoulders, and
neck before the 2009 accident.
filed his workers' compensation claim in November 2010.
In November 2011, Andrews reached a settlement agreement with
the LDS Church. Andrews then proceeded with this claim
against ISIF. In 2015, a hearing was held before the referee.
On May 10, 2016, following post-hearing depositions, the
referee filed his Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and
Recommendation. The referee found that Andrews had failed to
show that his pre-existing injuries were a subjective
hindrance to his employment and that he failed to show that
but for the pre-existing injuries he would not have been
totally and permanently disabled. Based on those findings,
the referee recommended that the Commission hold that ISIF
was not liable for Andrews' total and permanent
disability. The Commission issued an order the same day
adopting the referee's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of
Law, and Recommendation. Andrews timely appealed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
this Court reviews a decision from the Industrial Commission,
we exercise free review over questions of law, but review
questions of fact only to determine whether the
Commission's findings are supported by substantial and
competent evidence." Uhl v. Ballard Med. Products,
Inc., 138 Idaho 653, 657, 67 P.3d 1265, 1269 (2003).
This Court is "constitutionally compelled to defer to
the Industrial Commission's findings of fact where
supported by substantial and competent evidence."
Fife v. Home Depot, Inc., 151 Idaho 509, 513, 260
P.3d 1180, 1184 (2011). "Substantial and competent
evidence is relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might
accept to support a conclusion." Mazzone v. Texas
Roadhouse, Inc., 154 Idaho 750, 755, 302 P.3d 718, 723
(2013). "This Court will not disturb the
Commission's determination as to the weight and
credibility of evidence unless clearly erroneous."
Id. "In reviewing the Commission's
decision, we must view the facts and all inferences from them
most favorably to the party who prevailed before the
Commission." Dumaw v. J.L. Norton Logging, 118
Idaho 150, 155, 795 P.2d 312, 317 (1990).