The Court of Appeal overturned a WCAT Commissioner’s decision entitling a worker to workers’ compensation benefits. The Court found that the WCAT Commissioner made a series of patently unreasonable findings with respect to the medical evidence. The Court held that the conclusions regarding the medical expert opinion that the Commissioner made were directly contradicted by the physicians in their reports. The Court found that the Commissioner’s mistakes in understanding, interpreting, describing and applying the medical evidence was central to the Tribunal’s reasoning and amounted to errors of law requiring the Court of Appeal’s intervention.

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Workers Compensation Boards – Benefits – Judicial review – Evidence

Metropolitan Entertainment Group v. Nova Scotia (Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal), [2007] N.S.J. No. 88, Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, March 6, 2007, E.A. Roscoe, T.A. Cromwell and J.W.S. Saunders JJ.A.

The employer appealed a decision from the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal (“WCAT”) that concluded that the employee was entitled to receive benefits for injuries to her elbow and neck. The employee was a blackjack dealer at a casino who alleged her injuries resulted from spinning the roulette wheel and dispensing betting chips. The worker’s initial claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits was denied. However, after appealing to WCAT, benefits were granted. The employer appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal overturned the Tribunal’s decision stating that the Tribunal misstated evidence and made grievous factual errors that amounted to an error in law. Specifically, the Court of Appeal found that the Tribunal misstated the evidence of medical experts in reaching their decision. WCAT’s mistaken interpretation of the medical evidence was completely inconsistent with the evidence put before it. WCAT, in their reasons, stated that “all” of the physicians’ opinions were consistent with the view that the claimant’s condition was aggravated by her job functions. In fact, several of the medical advisors said that the employee’s injuries were not caused by her employment, but rather by some other reason. The Court of Appeal found that the WCAT Commissioner erred by ignoring, or failing to correctly interpret and apply the evidence before her in ways that were central to the Tribunal’s reasoning. Consequently, these mistakes were found to be egregious and amounted to errors in law, which warranted the Court of Appeal’s intervention.

The appeal was allowed, the WCAT decision was set aside, and the matter was remitted to WCAT for a rehearing before a differently constituted Tribunal.

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