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Steven A. Deloge v. State of Wyoming Ex Rel

November 9, 2011

STEVEN A. DELOGE, APPELLANT (PETITIONER/CLAIMANT),
v.
STATE OF WYOMING EX REL.,
WYOMING WORKERS' SAFETY AND COMPENSATION DIVISION, APPELLEE (RESPONDENT).



Appeal from the District Court of Carbon County The Honorable Wade E. Waldrip, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Voigt, Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of any typographical or other formal errors so that correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] The appellant, Steven DeLoge, appeals the district court's decision affirming the conclusion of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) that the appellant's injuries were the result of illegal activity and were therefore not compensable under the Wyoming Worker's Compensation Act. We affirm.

ISSUE

[¶2] Were the appellant's injuries the result of "illegal activity" under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 27-14-102(a)(xi)(E) (LexisNexis 2011), therefore precluding the appellant from recovering workers' compensation benefits?

FACTS

[¶3] The parties stipulated to the following facts: The appellant, an inmate in the Wyoming State Penitentiary, was working in the kitchen at the time of his injury. He and another inmate, Scott Bronson, began arguing verbally and the appellant was injured when Bronson struck the appellant in the face with his head. The appellant did not touch or assault Bronson in the course of this exchange. After the incident, Bronson was interviewed. The relevant portions of that interview are as follows:

During his interview, Bronson advised that [the appellant] told the Kitchen Supervisor that one of the inmates did not properly clean the bread slicing machine. According to Bronson, he went to the special diet area, where [the appellant] worked, to talk to him about it. Bronson said he told [the appellant] that it wasn't right for him to talk to the supervisor, but instead he should have gone to one of the inmates, after which [the appellant] said that he didn't know what he was talking about. Bronson stated that [the appellant] told him to "Get the [expletive] out of here." Bronson went on to say that they exchanged a few more words, and then he turned to leave when [the appellant] said, "and stay the [expletive] over there." Bronson turned back around and responded by saying to [the appellant] essentially, "Why don't you make me stay out of here." By this point they were in each others [sic] faces and he told [the appellant] to get out of his face. Bronson stated, "he didn't, so I head-butted him." Bronson continued by saying that he didn't mean to break [the appellant's] nose, but only meant to get him out of his face.

(Emphasis added.) Although subjected to inmate disciplinary proceedings, Bronson was not charged criminally.

[¶4] The appellant filed a workers' compensation claim based on injuries sustained in the altercation. Citing Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 27-14-102(a)(xi)(E), the Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Division (Division) denied the claim on the ground that his injuries were the result of illegal activities. After a hearing requested by the appellant, the OAH found that the appellant's injuries were "the result of an intentional head-butt which is clearly a violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-501(b) [(LexisNexis 2007)]" and denied workers' compensation benefits by granting the Division's cross-motion for summary judgment. The district court concluded that the OAH did not err in denying the appellant benefits. The appellant appeals that decision.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶5] No special deference is given to the district court's decision; this Court reviews the case as if it had come directly from the OAH. Dale v. S & S Builders, LLC, 2008 WY 84, ¶ 8, 188 P.3d 554, 557 (Wyo. 2008). A grant of summary judgment is reviewed de novo using the same standards employed by the administrative agency. Id. at ¶ 26, at 562.

The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that ...


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