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Aguirre v. Indus. Comm’n of Ariz. - 8/15/2019

Arizona Supreme Court holds that a claimant before the Industrial Commission does not waive a challenge to the legal sufficiency of an administrative law judge’s findings by failing to specifically raise that issue when requesting administrative review.

A firefighter requested a hearing before the Industrial Commission on his worker’s compensation claim.  After the hearing, the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) denied the claim in a summary ruling.  The firefighter then requested administrative review under A.R.S. § 23-943, but did not specifically challenge the legal sufficiency of the ALJ’s findings in his request.  The ALJ summarily affirmed, and the firefighter petitioned for special action.

Division One of the Court of Appeals set aside the ALJ’s award for failing to make legally-sufficient findings on all material issues, as required under Post v. Industrial Commission, 160 Ariz. 4 (1989).  The court concluded that Post’s sufficient-findings requirement applies even if a party fails to specifically raise that issue in the request for review. 

The Arizona Supreme Court granted review.  The Court agreed that the ALJ’s award had to be set aside as legally deficient because it “made no findings” on the material issue.  The Court further agreed that a party does not waive a challenge to the sufficiency of an ALJ’s findings under Post by failing to specifically raise that issue in a request for review.  Because the failure to make any material findings effectively prevents judicial review, the Court reasoned that the award must be set aside as legally deficient regardless of whether the claimant’s request for review specifically raises the issue.

Justice Gould wrote the unanimous opinion. 

Posted by: Hayleigh S. Crawford

Posted On: 9/9/2019