Thursday, April 5, 2007

Chance v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Ct. of Special Appeals)

Filed April 4, 2007--Opinion by Judge Patrick Woodward.

Appellant was injured during the course of her employment with WMATA. She filed a timely claim with the Worker's Compensation Commission, which WMATA did not contest. Due to a change in legal counsel and an incorrect date of injury on her claim, Appellant, through her new counsel, filed a second claim for the same injury with the Commission. When the error was discovered, Appellant moved to dismisse one of the claims. Because of another clerical error, however, her motion sought to dismiss the first claim rather than the second. The Commission granted her motion and dismissed her first claim.

Upon realizing the error, Appellant filed a motion to reinstate the first claim and dismiss the second, which the Commission also granted. WMATA then filed a petition for judicial review in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. The circuit court vacated the Commission's order and remanded the matter for a new hearing on whether the Commission had the authority to reinstate the dismissed claim. The Commission held a hearing, found that it had the authorityto reinstate the claim and reinstated Appellant's first claim.

The Commission's order was filed and mailed to the parties. WMATA then filed a petition for judicial review. Appellant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that WMATA's petition was filed after the statutorily prescribed thirty-day appeal period. The circuit court denied the motion. Thereafter, WMATA filed a motion for summary judgment and the circuit court granted that motion. Appellant, on appeal, presented two questions for review:

1) Did the circuit court err by denying her motion to dismiss WMATA's petition for judicial review as untimely filed?

2) Did the circuit court err as a matter of law by granting WMATA's Motion for Summary Judgment.

Held: Judgment of the circuit court for Montgomery County reversed; case remanded to that court with instructions to dismiss [WMATA's] petition for judicial review and remand the case to the Worker's Compensation Commission.

(synopsis to follow)

The opinion is available in PDF.

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