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December 26, 2013

A tribunal’s lack of jurisdiction to render a judgment or determination may be asserted at any time


A tribunal’s lack of jurisdiction to render a judgment or determination may be asserted at any time
2013 NY Slip Op 08481, Appellate Division, Third Department

In 1994 a New York City employee filed a Workers’ Compensation claim alleging that she had sustained a work-related injury.. The claim was controverted by the employer, who was “self-insured,” and in 1995 the employee's claim was marked closed due to a lack of prima facie medical evidence.

In 2011 the individual submitted a medical report documenting her injury. A Workers' Compensation Law Judge established the claim in a June 2011 decision, finding that the employer waived its defenses by failing to appear at a Workers' Compensation hearing. The Board found the employer's application for review of hearing officer's the decision untimely and the employer appealed its ruling.

The employer, conceding that its application for review was untimely, nevertheless contended that the Workers’ Compensation Board’s refusal to consider its claim that the Board lacked jurisdiction to reopen the matter pursuant to Workers' Compensation Law §123* constituted an abuse of discretion.”

The Appellate Division agreed, citing Doey v Howland Co., 224 NY 30. The court explained that "The general rule is that lack of jurisdiction to render a judgment or determination may be asserted at any time …" Although the Board has broad discretion to reject a late application for review, the court ruled that its refusal to consider an untimely challenge to its jurisdiction may constitute an abuse of discretion.

Given the age of the claim and the fact that it was marked closed in 1995, the Appellate Division said that the “employer plausibly argues that the Board lacked jurisdiction to reopen the present claim.” Thus the Board abused its discretion in refusing to consider the employer's admitted untimely application for review with respect to the Board’s jurisdiction under these circumstances.

The Appellate Division remanded the matter to the Board in order for it to “address the merits of [the employer's] application and determine if the [individual's] claim had been truly closed in 1995.”

* Workers' Compensation Law §123 provides for the continuing jurisdiction of the Board under certain circumstances.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_08481.htm


 
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