Worker Loses Claim After Failing to Request Arbitration After Mediation (Web)

Spears v. Carhartt: Under multi-step ADR provision, workers’ compensation claim barred by failure to request arbitration within a reasonable time following failed mediation.
 
Worker Loses Claim After Failing to Request Arbitration After Mediation
 
            On December 23rd, 2004, the Court of Appeals of Kentucky found that an employee’s claim could be lost for failing to request arbitration within 30 days of mediating the dispute under a multi-step dispute resolution provision negotiated by her union.
 
In ruling for the employer, the court affirmed prior findings of the Workers’ Compensation Board and the arbitrator.  Both had previously denied Spears’ claim on the grounds that she had failed to request arbitration within a reasonable time from the conclusion of mediation.   
 
Spears had argued that the alternative dispute resolution program substantially limits her procedural and substantive rights under state law.  Judge Barber, writing for the panel, found that “Spears has not been denied procedural or substantive due process by the decision that she failed to request arbitration in a timely fashion.”  Spears v. Carhartt, 2004 WL 2984945, at *2.  The Court noted that “[p]rocedural defects such as lack of timely notice of the injury are still available to the employer as a defense.” Id.  Spears requested arbitration in August of 2001, 16 months after the mediator issued his report and over three years after Carhartt stopped paying her temporary total disability benefits.
 
The unpublished opinion can be found at 2004 WL 2984945 and also at: http://www.comped.net/comped/opinions_recentdisp.asp?ID=2656