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Lawskills.com Georgia Caselaw
FULTON COTTON MILLS v. LASHLEY.
45803.
Workmen's compensation. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Pye.
QUILLIAN, Judge.
1. The State Board of Workmen's Compensation does not have authority to modify an award in the absence of a change in the claimant's condition.
2. Upon its own motion the State Board of Workmen's Compensation may review an award on the ground of a change in condition.
3. Upon review of an award, the superior court has authority only to affirm, reverse or in some cases remand to the board.
The employer and the claimant entered into a Form 16A Agreement which was approved by the State Board of Workmen's Compensation on September 27, 1968. The agreement provided that the claimant would be paid compensation because of an injury to her foot for a period not to exceed 10 weeks at the rate of $40 per week based on an average weekly wage of $80.
After the ten weeks had expired, the claimant requested a hearing "to determine compensation, medical, etc." When the claim came on for a hearing, the deputy director stated: "The purpose of the hearing is to determine the extent of disability to a specific member."
The award stated in part: "I find as a matter of fact the original agreement to pay compensation was in error and should be set aside. First, based on average weekly earnings of $80, the compensation rate should have been $48 per week rather than $40 as set forth in the agreement. Second, the evidence of both the treating doctor and the claimant show she has complained continuously of neck pain; that the agreement should have been executed on Form 16 rather than Form 16A. 1 find further claimant has been totally disabled since her injury. That she shall be offered further medical treatment, including treatment for the neck condition.
"I find further claimant shall be paid at the rate of $48 per week and that she shall be paid in a lump sum the additional $8 per week which was erroneously withheld from her, beginning September 6, 1968. Award.
"Wherefore, based upon the above findings of fact, Fulton Cotton Mills, employer and self insurer, are directed to pay to claimant compensation at the rate of $48 per week beginning September 6, 1968, and continuing for a period not to exceed 400 weeks or until there is a change in condition. They are directed to pay to claimant, in a lump sum the $8 per week erroneously withheld from her to the date last compensation payment was made, then to make weekly $48 payments. That after lump sum payment is made, the employer shall take credit for all weeks paid. They are further directed to pay all reasonable and necessary authorized medical not to exceed the statutory amount of $5,000."
The employer appealed to the superior court. The order of the superior court vacated that part of the award which dealt with the agreement approved on September 27, 1968, and affirmed that portion of the award which held that the claimant was entitled to total disability. The employer appealed and the case is here for review.
1. The award stated that the original Agreement Form 16A was in error in that the claimant should have received $48 per week for ten weeks rather than the $40 stated in the approved agreement. The award then directed the employer to pay the claimant in a lump sum the $8 difference for each of the ten weeks. This was a modifying of the original approved agreement. As was stated in St. Paul Fire Ins. Co. v. Bridges, 106 Ga. App. 621, 622 (127 SE2d 699): "The board is an administrative body, having no jurisdiction beyond that granted to it by the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act. It has heretofore been held that the jurisdiction granted under the Act does not extend to the board power to vacate or set aside such an order, or to modify it in the absence of a 'change of condition.'" This portion of the award was erroneous.
2. The employer contends that because the Deputy Director stated that the purpose of the hearing was to determine the extent of disability to a specific member, the board was without authority to enter an award of a change in condition. With this contention we can not agree. While the writer feels that the board should be limited to the purpose for which the hearing was called, the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act required a different holding. Code Ann. 114-709 (Ga. L. 1937, pp. 230, 233: 1937, pp. 528, 534; 1943, pp. 167-169; 1968, pp. 3, 7) provides in part: "Upon their own motion before judicial determination or upon the application of any party in interest on the ground of a change in condition, the State Board of Workmen's Compensation may, not later than two years from the date that the board is notified that the final payment of a claim has been made pursuant to a board order, review any award or any settlement made between the parties and approved by the board and, on such review, may make an award ending, diminishing or increasing the compensation previously awarded or agreed upon subject to the maximum or minimum provided in this Title, and shall immediately send to the parties a copy of the new award."
Therefore, the board having authority on its own motion to enter an award stating that a change in condition has taken place, it cannot be said that the deputy director's award exceeded the board's powers.
3. The order of the superior court was erroneous. The order affirmed in part and vacated in part the award of the Workmen's Compensation Board. Upon review of an award, the superior court only has the authority to affirm, reverse or in some cases remand to the board. American Cas. Co. v. Harris, 96 Ga. App. 720, 723 (101 SE2d 618).
This case is reversed with direction that the superior court remand the award to the State Board of Workmen's Compensation with direction that an award be entered in conformity with this opinion.
Judgment reversed with direction. Jordan, P. J., and Evans, J., concur.
William L. Aynes, for appellee.
Smith, Cohen, Ringel, Kohler, Martin & Lowe, Malcolm H. Ringel, Williston C. White, for appellant.
ARGUED JANUARY 7, 1971 --DECIDED MARCH 9, 1971-- REHEARING DENIED MARCH 30, 1971 -- CERT. APPLIED FOR.
Friday May 22 15:48 EDT


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