At Hanba & Lazar, we’re often asked about how a worker’s compensation magistrate may rule at the time of trial. Usually, we get a feel for a magistrate’s personality and opinions after frequent interactions in court, but the State of Michigan releases statistics summarizing each magistrate’s decisions, which may be a more objective way of evaluating their performance.
Below are links showing each magistrate’s decision outcomes for 2014 through 2016, and there are a few pieces of information worth noting. The prevailing opinion among worker’s compensation practitioners is that Magistrate Luke McMurray in Flint issues conservative rulings, so it is surprising to note that all three of his trials in 2016 resulted in open awards. The most active judge in 2016 was Robert Tjapkes, who tried twelve cases, and only two of those resulted in an open award. Magistate Lou Ognisanti, who presides in both Pontiac and Saginaw, tried eleven cases last year, and eight of those trials resulted in the finding of a closed period or a denial of benefits, which is by far the most favorable percentage seen. The information provided also lists a fair amount of “miscellaneous” decisions made by magistrates. Those decisions likely involved purely legal arguments that did not result in a true “denial” or “award”, and also could involve cases where only medical bills are being contested.
Submitted by Jonathan Rea, firstname.lastname@example.org
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