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Workers’ Compensation – Sanctions – Statutory Only – Egregious Violations

Workers’ Compensation – Sanctions – Statutory Only – Egregious Violations

Despite defendants’ egregious violations of Industrial Commission orders, leading to a decline in plaintiff’s condition, the Commission can only impose the sanctions set out in the Workers’ Compensation Act.

We affirm the Commission’s opinion and award and its denial of plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration.

No authority supports plaintiff’s argument that the Commission has an inherent judicial power with respect to sanctions that may be imposed in any case. The Commission correctly observed that its authority to sanction a party is limited to costs and attorney’s fees assessed pursuant to G.S. §§ 97-18(g)-(j), 97-25(f)(5), 97-88, and 97-88.1. Based on this conclusion, we also hold there is no authority to support plaintiff’s argument that the Commission abused its discretion by refusing to sanction defendants the amount of funds they retained by denying her medications.

Although the Commission determined that defendants acted egregiously in this case, and then defended against plaintiff’s prosecution of those actions with an unreasonable defense, the Commission is a creature of statute, and must act consistently with the authority and powers granted to it by the General Assembly.

Plaintiff offers no statute or case law to support her argument that the Commission has the power to remove a third-party administrator from a case. We find that, without some support in the laws, the Commission cannot fashion such a remedy.

After imposing some, but not all, of the statutory sanctions available to it, the Commission said that any ongoing failure by either defendant “to comply with an order of the Commission may subject any person who has the ability [to] bring either of these parties into compliance with an order to civil contempt proceedings, including an order to show cause, referral to a contempt docket, and a judgment of civil contempt.”

Contrary to plaintiff’s argument, this conclusion does not limit plaintiff’s recourse. Nowhere in the Commission’s opinion or award does it state that filing a contempt motion is plaintiff’s only recourse.


Kish v. Frye Regional Medical Center (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-076-18, 14 pp.) (John Arrowood, J.) Appealed from the Industrial Commission. William Acton Jr. for plaintiff; John Morris and Daniel O’Shea for defendants. N.C. App. Unpub.


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