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Farris v. Express Services, Inc.

Supreme Court of Arkansas

May 9, 2019

Walter FARRIS, Appellant
v.
EXPRESS SERVICES, INC., and New Hampshire Insurance Company, Appellees

Page 864

          APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO. G603170]

         Goldberg & Dohan, by: Andy L. Caldwell, for appellant.

         Worley, Wood & Parrish, P.A., by: Melissa Wood, for appellee.

         OPINION

         JOHN DAN KEMP, Chief Justice

Page 865

          Appellant Walter Farris appeals an Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission’s decision adopting the finding of the administrative law judge (ALJ) that his additional-benefits claim was barred by the statute of limitations. For reversal, Farris argues that the Commission’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence. We affirm the Commission’s finding and vacate the opinion of the court of appeals.

          I. Facts

         On May 12, 2014, Farris was injured on the job when a crane fell on him. He sustained injuries to his head, neck, and left shoulder. Appellee Express Services, Inc., a temporary employment agency that employed Farris, paid benefits for his injury claim.[1] Farris received medical treatment from Dr. Ron Sketchers until he was released to full duty on April 28, 2015. Express Services paid the fee associated with the April 28 visit.

          On May 5, 2016, approximately two years after he was injured, Farris submitted a Form AR-C for additional benefits. On the form, he incorrectly named Great Dane Trailers as his employer. Express Services had assigned Farris to a Great Dane location, but he worked for the temporary agency. Farris later realized his mistake, and on May 13, he filed an amended Form AR-C, dated May 12, and correctly named Express Services as his employer.

         The ALJ conducted a hearing on Farris’s entitlement to additional workers’-compensation benefits and found that his claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The Commission affirmed and adopted the ALJ’s findings. Farris appealed to the Arkansas Court of Appeals. Relying on Dillard v. Benton County Sheriff’s Office, 87 Ark.App. 379, 192 S.W.3d 287 (2004), the court of appeals held that Farris’s mistake on his claim form for additional benefits was "a mistake as to form and not as to substance." Farris v. Express Servs., Inc., 2018 Ark.App. 189, at 4, 546 S.W.3d 530, 532. The court of appeals concluded that the statute of limitations had tolled and reversed and remanded to the Commission. Id., 546 S.W.3d at 532. Express Services petitioned this court for review, and we granted the petition. When we grant a petition for review, we consider the appeal as though it had originally been filed in this court. Lawson v. Simmons Sporting Goods, Inc., 2019 Ark. 84, 569 S.W.3d 865.

          II. Law and Analysis

          For his sole point on appeal, Farris argues that substantial evidence does not support the Commission’s decision. Specifically, Farris contends that he timely filed his first additional-benefits form on May 5, 2016, and that his mistake of naming the wrong employer should not bar his claim.

          When reviewing a decision of the Commission, we view the evidence and all reasonable inferences deducible therefrom in the light most favorable to the findings of the Commission and affirm ...


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