Trial Notebook : Appeals – Superior Court

Appeal to the Superior Court

  • On an appeal in a workers' compensation case, the Superior Court has authority and jurisdiction only to affirm or reverse as a matter of law and to sometimes give directions. See State of Ga. v. Mitchell, 177 Ga. App. 333, 339 S.E.2d 384 (1985).
  • The court may only set aside the Board's decision where the Board members acted without or in excess of their powers, the decision was procured by fraud, the facts found do not support the decision, there is not sufficient competent evidence to warrant the decision, or the decision is contrary to law. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-105(c).
  • The Superior Court may not substitute itself as the fact-finding body in lieu of the Board. Atkinson v. Home Indemnity Company, 141 Ga. App. 687, 199 S.E.2d 910 (1977).
  • The Superior Court Judge has no fact-finding power, in where the Board neither adopted the Administrative Law Judge's findings nor made its own findings of fact, there is nothing on which a Superior Court Judge could base a final judgment awarding compensation. Pacific Employers Ins. Co. v. West, 213 Ga. 296, 339 S.E.2d 384 (1957).
  • "It is law of this State that if there is any evidence to support the finding of a Workers' Compensation Board, the Superior Court may not reverse the Award unless errors of law were committed. Moreover, in determining whether evidence in the case meets the 'any evidence' rule, the evidence will be construed in the light most favorable to the party prevailing before the [B]oard and every presumption in favor of the Board's Award is indulged. Calhoun v. Mergentine/KVN & Horn Fruin-Colnon, 165 Ga. App. 610, 302 S.E.2d 401 (1983). All cited in Footstar, Inc. d/b/a Meldisco Shoe-Mart et al. v. Stevens, 275 Ga. App. 329, 620 S.E.2d 588 (2005). All cited in Sears v. Macon Water Authority, 276 Ga. App. 194, 622 S.E.2d 867 (2005).

  • A request for change of physician may be appealed to the Superior Court. See Columbus Foundries v. Moore, 175 Ga. App. 387, 333 S.E.2d 212 (1985).
  • When the findings of the trial and appellate divisions are supported by some competent evidence, they were binding and conclusive on the Superior Court. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-105; Dallas v. Flying J, Inc., 279 GA. App. 786, 632 S.E.2d 389 (2006). The Court of Appeals held that evidence supported determination that claimant's back injury had resolved itself and ceased to be the cause of her back-related disability in Big Lots, et al. v. Kiker, 304 Ga. App. 190, 695 S.E.2d 710 (2010).

Appeal to the Superior Court and Court of Appeals

  • "Once the case is appealed from the Appellate Division, both this Court and the Superior Court must view the evidence in a light favorable to the party prevailing before that Division. If any evidence supports the Appellate Division's findings, those findings are binding and conclusive, and we may not 'substitute [ourselves] as a fact-finding body in lieu of the Board.'" See Dallas v. Flying J, Inc., 279 Ga. App. 786, 632 S.E.2d 389 (2006).
  • Issue not raised before the ALJ will not be considered at appellate level. See Georgia Power Co. v. Safford, 171 Ga. App. 387, 319 S.E.2d 537 (1984).

Duty of Superior Court

  • The Superior Court has substantially limited its power to overturn a decision of the Board. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-105(c)(1) - (5). "Absent a legal error, review by Superior Court is confined. Determination of whether any evidence supporting the decision of the appellate division." See, McCarty v. Delta Pride, 247 Ga. App. 734, 535 S.E.2d 107 (2001).

Failure of Superior Court to Send Order to Parties

  • O.C.G.A. § 15-6-21(c) requires the trial judge to file his decision with the clerk of court in which the cases are pending and to notify the attorney or attorneys of the losing party of his or her decision. This is axiomatic in a case and the court's failure to do so will toll the time for appeal. See Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. et al v. Parker, 283 Ga. App. 708, 642 S.E.2d 387 (2007).

Remanding by the Superior Court to the Full Board

  • A remand by the Superior Court without a formal set-aside is "in effect" a set-aside. See, O.C.G.A. § 34-9-105(b) and see, Fulton County Board of Education v. Nathaniel Taylor, Jr., 262 Ga. App. 512, 586 S.E.2d 51 (2003).

The Issue on Appeal to the Superior Court in a Workers' Compensation Case is Whether there is "Any Evidence" to Authorize a Finding in Accordance with the Contentions of the Prevailing Party to The Full Board

  • Moreover, "[w]hile the Superior Court does have the authority to set aside the Board's decision and remand; it can do so only for one of the five statutory grounds. They do not need an assertion of newly discovered evidence as such." Jones County Board of Education v. Patterson, 255 Ga. App. 166, 564 S.E.2d 777 (2002). Action Staffing v. Spaulding Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, 198 Ga. App. 764, 403 S.E.2d 61 (1991). See, O.C.G.A. § 34-9-405(c) & (d).

Superior Court Powers

  • The superior court can normally only have power to affirm, reverse or remand an Award of the Board, but where the Award is based on an erroneous interpretation of a law, the superior court is authorized to amend the Award to conform to the Act. Watkins Memorial Hospital v. Chadwick, 171 Ga. App. 446, 319 S.E.2d 876 (1984).

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