ARCTEC Services v. Cummings

[EMPLOYMENT LAW]

In ARCTEC Services v. Cummings,[1] the supreme court held that witness-credibility determinations by the Workers’ Compensation Board (the “Board”) are made in accordance with a subjective standard.[2] In 2006, Cummings was hurt on the job and began receiving workers’ compensation checks that periodically required her to certify that she had not been working.[3] However, while receiving the checks, Cummings occasionally worked without pay in her boyfriend’s store.[4] In 2008, ARCTEC filed a petition for a finding of fraud with the Board.[5] Since the Board found Cummings’ testimony that she considered her time at the store to be purely voluntary and therefore not necessary to report credible, it denied ARCTEC’s petition.[6] ARCTEC subsequently appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Commission (the “Commission”), arguing that the Board should have used an objective standard to evaluate Cummings’ testimony that would determine if Cummings’ subjectively held belief was objectively reasonable.[7] The Commission agreed that the Board should have used an objective standard.[8] The supreme court reversed the Commission’s decision, citing evidence that both the legislative history and the language of the statute itself called for a subjective standard.[9] The court further reasoned that since the legislature had given the Board "the sole power to determine credibility of a witness," the objective standard would also impermissibly impinge on the Board’s authority.[10] Reversing the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that witness-credibility determinations by the Board are made in accordance with a subjective standard.[11]

 



[1] 295 P.3d 916 (Alaska 2013).

[2] Id. at 923.

[3] Id. at 917.

[4] Id. at 918.

[5] Id. at 919.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. at 919.

[8] Id. at 919–20.

[9] Id. at 921–23.

[10] Id. at 923–24.

[11] Id. at 923.

ARCTEC Services v. Cummings

[EMPLOYMENT LAW]

In ARCTEC Services v. Cummings,[1] the supreme court held that witness-credibility determinations by the Workers’ Compensation Board (the “Board”) are made in accordance with a subjective standard.[2] In 2006, Cummings was hurt on the job and began receiving workers’ compensation checks that periodically required her to certify that she had not been working.[3] However, while receiving the checks, Cummings occasionally worked without pay in her boyfriend’s store.[4] In 2008, ARCTEC filed a petition for a finding of fraud with the Board.[5] Since the Board found Cummings’ testimony that she considered her time at the store to be purely voluntary and therefore not necessary to report credible, it denied ARCTEC’s petition.[6] ARCTEC subsequently appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Commission (the “Commission”), arguing that the Board should have used an objective standard to evaluate Cummings’ testimony that would determine if Cummings’ subjectively held belief was objectively reasonable.[7] The Commission agreed that the Board should have used an objective standard.[8] The supreme court reversed the Commission’s decision, citing evidence that both the legislative history and the language of the statute itself called for a subjective standard.[9] The court further reasoned that since the legislature had given the Board "the sole power to determine credibility of a witness," the objective standard would also impermissibly impinge on the Board’s authority.[10] Reversing the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that witness-credibility determinations by the Board are made in accordance with a subjective standard.[11]

 



[1] 295 P.3d 916 (Alaska 2013).

[2] Id. at 923.

[3] Id. at 917.

[4] Id. at 918.

[5] Id. at 919.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. at 919.

[8] Id. at 919–20.

[9] Id. at 921–23.

[10] Id. at 923–24.

[11] Id. at 923.