Sheryl A. Rogers, appellee,
Jack's Supper Club and Continental Western Group, appellants.
Workers' Compensation: Appeal and Error.
A judgment, order, or award of the compensation court may be
modified, reversed, or set aside only upon the grounds that
(1) the compensation court acted without or in excess of its
powers; (2) the judgment, order, or award was procured by
fraud; (3) there is not sufficient competent evidence in the
record to warrant the making of the judgment, order, or
award; or (4) the findings of fact by the compensation court
do not support the order or award.
___ . An appellate court is obligated in workers'
compensation cases to make its own determinations as to
questions of law.
___. Findings of fact made by the Workers' Compensation
Court after review have the same force and effect as a jury
verdict and will not be set aside unless clearly erroneous.
Workers' Compensation: Witnesses:
Testimony. As the trier of fact, the Workers'
Compensation Court is the sole judge of the credibility of
witnesses and the weight to be given their testimony.
Statutes: Intent. When interpreting a
statute, the starting point and focus of the inquiry is the
meaning of the statutory language, understood in context.
Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory
language is to be given its plain and ordinary meaning, and
an appellate court will not resort to interpretation to
ascertain the meaning of statutory words which are plain,
direct, and unambiguous.
Statutes. It is not within the province of
the courts to read meaning into a statute that is not there
or to read anything direct and plain out of a statute.
Statutes: Legislature: Intent. When words of
a particular clause, taken literally, would plainly
contradict other clauses of the same statute, or [304 Neb.
606] lead to some manifest absurdity or to some consequences
which a court sees plainly could not have been intended, or
to result manifestly against the general term, scope, and
purpose of the law, then the court may apply the rules of
construction to ascertain the meaning and intent of the
lawgiver, and bring the whole statute into harmony if
Statutes: Legislature: Public Policy. It is
the function of the Legislature, through the enactment of
statutes, to declare what is the law and public policy of
Workers' Compensation: Liability.
Voluntary payments of workers' compensation benefits do
not constitute an admission of liability by an employer.
from the Workers' Compensation Court: J. Michael
Caroline M. Westerhold and Eric J. Sutton, of Baylor Evnen,
L.L.P., for appellants.
Margaret R. Jackson, Todd R. McWha, and Tyler Volkmer, of
Waite, McWha & Heng, for appellee.
Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Funke, Papik, and
Workers' Compensation Court ordered Jack's Supper
Club and Continental Western Group, its workers'
compensation carrier (collectively JSC), to reimburse Sheryl
A. Rogers for various medical expenses she incurred. In the
same decision, the compensation court stated that Rogers
could continue to receive treatment from certain providers.
We agree with JSC, however, that it is not responsible to
reimburse Rogers, because she selected the physicians who
provided the treatment at issue in disregard of provisions of
the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act. We also agree
with JSC that the compensation court failed to adequately
explain the basis for its order that Rogers could continue to
receive treatment from the specified providers. We thus
reverse the order and remand the cause with directions.
Neb. 607] BACKGROUND
Selection of Physician in Form 50, and Settlement.
injured her back while working for Jack's Supper Club in
2001. Shortly after the injury, she filled out a form
indicating that she was choosing a "Dr. Beyers" at
the Dundy County Hospital in Benkelman, Nebraska, to treat
her for her work-related injury. The parties appear to agree
that the form was a "Form 50" promulgated by the
Workers' Compensation Court.
later filed a petition in the compensation court against JSC.
After some litigation regarding Rogers' claim, the
compensation court approved a lump-sum settlement in 2010.
The settlement resolved JSC's liability for indemnity
benefits. JSC remained responsible to pay Rogers for
reasonable and necessary medical care for her work-related
Regarding Reimbursement for Medical Expenses.
point not clear from our record, Dr. Beyers, the physician
that Rogers selected in the Form 50, died. Rogers then
received treatment from Dr. Lori Stonehocker, one of Dr.
Beyers' colleagues. JSC apparently reimbursed Rogers for
treatment provided by Dr. Stonehocker.
2010, Rogers moved to Florida and the parties' counsel
engaged in a series of communications regarding Rogers'
treating physician. JSC initially expressed concern about
Rogers' receiving treatment from a provider in Nebraska
while living in Florida. It proposed that the parties agree
to a pain management specialist in Florida. Rogers'
counsel responded that she would not agree with JSC to a pain
management specialist. Rogers' counsel later informed
JSC's counsel that Rogers had selected Dr. Jonathan
Daitch, a pain management specialist in Florida. After
Rogers' counsel informed JSC's counsel that there was
no Form 50 and that Rogers was free to select her ...