Court upholds penalties to TPA for untimely payments

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A casino and its third-party administrator were denied judicial review of penalties and fines they received for failing to pay workers compensation benefits on time.

In Treasure Island Hotel and Casino v. Voorhees, the Nevada Court of Appeals on Wednesday unanimously upheld the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations’ decision to impose penalties and fines against the employer and insurer for failing to provide timely disability payments and vocational rehabilitation.

Heidi Voorhees was working as a cocktail waitress for Treasure Island Hotel and Casino when she slipped and fell on a wet floor during a shift in November 2014, suffering injuries to her knees, ankles and elbows. She filed a workers compensation claim, and the casino’s TPA, York Risk Services Group Inc., handled it. Ms. Voorhees was released to light duty, but because the casino could not accommodate her work restrictions, she was awarded temporary total disability benefits.

She filed an administrative complaint alleging that York issued her payments late and suspended her vocational rehabilitation benefits. The Division of Industrial Relations held that York engaged in a pattern of untimely payments and wrongly suspended vocational rehabilitation benefits for Ms. Voorhees and imposed penalties and fines for each violation.

Treasure Island and York petitioned a district court for review of the division’s decision, which was denied. They then petitioned the appellate court for review, arguing that the division’s finding was not supported by substantial evidence.

The appellate court affirmed the division’s decision. Although York and Treasure Island argued that payments were late because of a transfer of care and an administrative error, the court found that the division had substantial evidence on which to base its decision.

The appellate court also upheld the penalties for the suspension of vocational rehabilitation benefits. Although York argued it believed Ms. Voorhees was not a U.S. citizen because she was born in Libya and ineligible for vocational rehabilitation, the court said that her expired U.S. passport, her social security card and driver’s license were sufficient documentary evidence of citizenship, and noted that an ISO ClaimSearch verified her work status.

As a result, the court found that substantial evidence supported the division’s finding that vocational rehabilitation benefits were wrongly denied to Ms. Voorhees and that the district court did not err in denying judicial review.