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To be entitled to an award of benefits under the odd lot doctrine, an employee must prove: 1) he is no longer capable of performing the job he had at the time of his injury and 2) the degree of his physical impairment coupled with other factors such as his mental capacity, education, training and age make him eligible for permanent total disability benefits even though he is not totally incapacitated. To satisfy that burden, an employee must also demonstrate he made reasonable efforts to find work in his community after reaching maximum medical improvement or, alternatively, that he was so completely disabled by his work-related injury that any effort to find employment would have been futile. If the employee meets his burden, an employer must then prove that light work of a special nature which the employee could perform but which is not generally available in fact is available to the employee.
After doctors certified him as having reached maximum medical improvement from a work-related back injury, James Moss applied to the Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Division for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. The Division denied his claim and the Medical Commission held a contested case hearing. Based upon the evidence presented, the Medical Commission concluded that Moss did not meet his burden of proving that he was entitled to PTD benefits and denied his claim. Moss appealed to the district court, which affirmed the denial of benefits. On further appeal, Moss asserted that the Medical Commission did not properly allocate the burden of proof as required under the odd lot doctrine.
Was Moss entitled to PTD benefits under the odd lot doctrine or Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 27-14-102(a)(xvi) (2007)?
The Court affirmed the Medical Commission's decision, holding that, while Moss had met his initial burden of showing his entitlement to PTD benefits, he may not be entitled to the PTD benefits because a vocational evaluator concluded that he could find work in his geographic area in jobs such as cashier, rental clerk, telemarketer, desk clerk and customer representative. Thus, substantial evidence supported the Medical Commission's ruling that Moss was not entitled to benefits under the odd lot doctrine or Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 27-14-102(a)(xvi) (2007).