On Friday, December 4, 2009, the Michigan Supreme Court denied three applications for leave to appeal, denied one prisoner's motion to waive his filing fees, and corrected its previous order in Lansing Schools Education Association v. Lansing School Board, Case No. 138401, to include a dissenting opinion by Justice Young. The Court also peremptorily reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and reinstated the decision of the worker's compensation magistrate in Loos v. J.B. Installed Sales, Inc., Case No. 137987.
In Loos, the plaintiff was injured after falling from a roof. He alleged that at the time of his fall he was employed by Robinson Roofing which had contracted with J.S. Installed Sales, Inc., to perform the roof work. The issue on appeal was whether plaintiff qualified as an employee of J.S. Installed Sales, Inc., as defined by the factors enumerated in the Worker's Disability Compensation Act, MCL 418.161(1)(n). The worker's compensation magistrate concluded that the plaintiff was not an employee, focusing on the plaintiff's tax records as evidence of whether he was paid wages or non-employee compensation. The Worker's Compensation Appellate Commission reversed that determination holding that the magistrate's reliance on the plaintiff's tax records was misplaced. The Court of Appeals agreed with the Commission's reasoning and held that the Worker's Compensation Appellate Commission had properly performed its de novo review of the record. The Court of Appeals opinion is here.
After holding oral argument on this case, in lieu of granting leave, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals' opinion and reinstated the decision of the worker's compensation magistrate. In reaching this conclusion, the Court held that the Court of Appeals improperly determined that the plaintiff's tax records were irrelevant to the question of whether he was an employee. Based on that conclusion, the Court held that the Worker's Compensation Appellate Commission had not properly performed its administrative appellate review function where it reversed the magistrate's ruling based on the magistrate's reliance on plaintiff's tax records. The Court's order can be found here.
Justice Cavanagh concurred in part and dissented in part. He agreed with the Court that the plaintiff's tax records are relevant to determining whether the plaintiff is an employee under MCL 418.161(1)(n). However, he disagreed that the Worker's Compensation Appellate Commission had properly performed its appellate review function because he felt that there was evidence on the record sufficient to support the Commission's decision.