Paul H. Schneider, Appellant,
City of Lawrence, Appellee.
BY THE COURT
most fundamental rule of statutory interpretation is that the
intent of the Legislature governs if the Legislature's
intent can be determined. Appellate courts must first seek to
discover the intent of the Legislature through the plain
language of a statute before resorting to the canons of
K.S.A. 44-534(b) requires workers compensation claimants to
apply for a hearing within three years of the date of their
accident or within two years of the date of the last payment
of compensation. Nothing within the plain language of K.S.A.
44-534(b) prevents a revival of the two-year statute of
limitations to timely file an application for a hearing after
the running of the two-year statute of limitations when a
payment of compensation occurs.
Under the facts of this case, when the employer made a
payment of compensation after the two-year statute of
limitations to apply for a hearing had run under K.S.A.
44-534(b), the employer revived the employee's
two-year-time period in which to file a timely application
for hearing. As a result, the employee timely filed an
application for a hearing within two years of the
employer's last payment of compensation.
from Workers Compensation Board.
Alan Brumley, of Topeka, for appellant.
Kubin, of Martin Pringle, Attorneys at Law, of Overland Park,
Standridge, P.J., Pierron and Green, JJ.
Schneider appeals the Workers Compensation Board's
(Board) decision, finding that both of his claims against the
City of Lawrence (City) Fire Department were untimely under
K.S.A. 44-534(b). Because Schneider timely filed an
application for hearing within the two-year period for the
running of the applicable statute of limitations, we reverse
the Board's decision and remand for further proceedings
consistent with this opinion.
worked for the City's fire department. The parties do not
dispute that he injured his back while working for the City
on September 21, 2008, and September 27, 2010.
January 28, 2016, Schneider filed two applications for
hearings, in which he asserted that he had a right to
benefits under the Act. In the first application, Schneider
stated that his work accident occurred while working for the
City on September 21, 2008. In his second application,
Schneider stated that his work accident occurred while
working for the City on September 27, 2010. Schneider alleged
that both of his injuries were to his low back and body as a
whole. The City responded that it intended to deny
Schneider's applications for benefits as untimely.
Schneider asserted that his applications were timely because
the City had provided him authorized medical care for back
injuries on December 14, 2015. Schneider argued that the
statute of limitations under K.S.A. 44-534(b) was revived
upon the City's December 14, 2015 payment.
regular hearing before the administrative law judge (ALJ),
Schneider testified about his back pain becoming
progressively worse after his 2010 injury. He explained that
by 2015, it was difficult for him to work. He testified that
he went to his personal doctor, Dr. David Fritz, and they
discussed him having back surgery. This was the first doctor
he had visited since his last physical therapy appointment
paid for by the City on February 28, 2012. Schneider
testified that his personal health insurance paid for his
appointment with Dr. Fritz. Yet, he further testified that
his personal health insurance denied his request for back
surgery once it learned that his back pain stemmed from
work-related injuries. He admitted that after his personal
insurance denied his request for back surgery, he contacted
the City, and the City sent him to its doctor, Dr. Chris
discovery, the City called two witnesses: Dr. Chris Fevurly
and Gary Cooper, the City's risk manager.
Fevurly testified that he had treated Schneider for the 20
years that Schneider had been employed with the fire
department. He testified that he had also examined him
annually for the firefighter fitness exam. He explained that
for Schneider's 2008 and 2010 work injuries, he had
treated Schneider for "spondylolysis of L5 and then
spondylolisthesis grade two of L5 and S1." Dr. Fevurly
testified that on December 14, 2015, Schneider returned for
another examination, complaining of back ...