STATE OF WYOMING, ex rel., WYOMING DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SERVICES, WORKERS' COMPENSATION DIVISION, Appellant (Petitioner)
CODY BEAZER, Appellee (Employee) and HORSLEY COMPANY, LLC, Appellee (Respondent/Employer).
from the District Court of Teton County The Honorable Timothy
C. Day, Judge
Representing Appellant: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General;
John D. Rossetti, Deputy Attorney General; Michael J. Finn,
Senior Assistant Attorney General; Samantha Caselli,
Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Caselli.
Representing Appellee, Cody Beazer: No appearance.
Representing Appellee, Horsley Company, LLC: William G.
Hibbler, Bill G. Hibbler, PC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Appellant, Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation
Division, challenges an order from the Office of
Administrative Hearings granting summary judgment to
Appellee, Horsley Company, LLC, on the issue of whether the
Division was entitled to recover payments made to
Horsley's employee. The Division appealed that decision
and the district court affirmed. The Division also claims the
district court and the OAH erred in awarding attorney's
fees to Horsley. We affirm.
The Division presents three issues, which we condense and
restate as follows:
1. Did the hearing examiner err in concluding Horsley was
entitled to summary judgment because the Division was
estopped from seeking reimbursement for benefits awarded to
2. Did the hearing examiner and the district court err in
awarding attorney's fees to Horsley?
raises two additional issues, which we also restate:
1. Is the Division's challenge to summary judgment moot
because it has failed to challenge all bases for the grant of
2. Does this Court have jurisdiction to consider the
challenge to the award of attorney's fees to Horsley by
the OAH and the district court?
Horsley Company, LLC, is a Florida contractor that was hired
to install a baggage handling system at the airport in
Jackson, Wyoming. Prior to commencing work on the project,
Horsley applied for a workers' compensation account with
the Workers' Safety and Compensation Division.
Horsley's application noted that it had private
workers' compensation insurance for employees not
residing in Wyoming. In response to Horsley's
application, the Division created a "pending"
workers' compensation account and required Horsley to
submit a certificate of insurance demonstrating coverage for
all non-resident employees. Horsley subsequently submitted a
certificate of insurance indicating that it had a
workers' compensation and employer liability insurance
policy for workers residing in states outside Wyoming,
In October, the Division sent Horsley a letter stating that
it had received proof of coverage from Horsley's
insurance carrier and that Horsley's pending workers'
compensation account for non-resident employees had been
closed: "The Wyoming Workers' Safety &
Compensation Division has received Proof of Coverage from
your insurance carrier stating that you have coverage for
your employees while performing work in Wyoming. Therefore,
your pending account has been closed and you do not have
Workers' Compensation coverage through Wyoming." In
December, the Division sent Horsley a second letter stating
that "We are pleased to notify you that we accept your
existing coverage for your employees coming into Wyoming from
other locations." In this letter, the Division noted
that a Wyoming Workers' Compensation account had been
activated to cover Wyoming resident employees.
In June 2010, the claimant, Cody Beazer, was injured in the
course and scope of his employment with
Horsley. The injury occurred while Mr. Beazer was
working on the airport project in Wyoming. Following Mr.
Beazer's injury, there was confusion as to whether the
claim would be handled by the Division as a Wyoming
Workers' Compensation claim or by Horsley's insurance
covering out-of-state employees. On July 7, a Division
employee informed Mr. Beazer that his claim was being handled
by the Division. A couple days later, a representative of
Horsley's insurance company informed Horsley that she had
spoken with the Division's representative and they had
"figured out . . . that coverage is actually in Wyoming
for this claim, under the Horsley Company. Therefore, the
claim I was handling will now be denied and the WY claim is
active." The representatives of the Division and
Horsley's insurance company concluded that Mr. Beazer had
established residency in Wyoming. The record is not clear as
to how this determination was made. Apparently, it was
erroneous. It is undisputed that Mr. Beazer was not a
resident of Wyoming during his employment with Horsley. The
record indicates that Mr. Beazer was, at all times relevant
to this action, a resident of Utah.
In August 2010, the Division sent Horsley a Notice of Case
Cost Liability stating that Horsley had failed to comply with
the Worker's Compensation Act because it had not filed an
"employee report" for the period in which Mr.
Beazer's injury occurred.The notice stated that, as a
result, Horsley was liable to the State for all payments made
to Mr. Beazer. The Division subsequently explained that
"wages for Cody Beazer should have been reported, and a
premium paid, to be in compliance with the [Act]." In
September, the Division sent Horsley a Case Cost Liability
Billing Statement, which provided that "Under W.S.
27-14-203(a) you are liable for an amount equal to all the
medical and indemnity payments made on behalf of an employee
who was injured when your account was delinquent in
Worker's Compensation reporting or payment or
Horsley began making payments to the Division. However, it
subsequently filed an objection, pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann.
§ 27-14-605(a), to all additional medical and impairment
or disability payments. That matter, which was assigned Case
No. C-102, was ultimately referred to the Office of
Administrative Hearings for a contested case hearing. Horsley
also filed a petition objecting to the Division's
determination that it was required to reimburse the Division
for payments made to Mr. Beazer under Wyo. Stat. Ann. §
27-14-203(a). That matter was also referred to the OAH and
was docketed as Case No. C-103. The OAH subsequently
consolidated the cases and stayed further action in Case
C-102 until the issue of Horsley's liability under
Section 203(a) was resolved.
Horsley subsequently moved for summary judgment in Case C-103
claiming that it had complied with the Worker's
Compensation Act and was not liable under Wyo. Stat. Ann.
§ 27-14-203(a). It also claimed the Division was
estopped from recovering benefits paid to Mr. Beazer.
Following a hearing, the OAH granted the motion. It
determined that Horsley had complied with the Worker's
Compensation Act in all respects, and was not liable for
payments made to Mr. Beazer by the Division. It also
concluded the Division was estopped from recovering amounts
paid to Mr. Beazer because it accepted Horsley's proof of
insurance and closed Horsley's Wyoming Workers'
Compensation account with respect to non-resident employees.
The Division filed a petition for review of the OAH's
summary judgment in district court. That matter was docketed
as Case No. 16773.
On October 20, 2014, Horsley submitted a request for
attorney's fees pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. §
27-14-602(d), relating to its petition for modification of
benefits in Case C-102. The OAH granted the request on October
30, 2014. In a separate order issued the same day, the OAH
determined that, because Horsley had been found not to be
liable for payment to the Division, its request for relief in
Case C-102 was moot. The Division sought reconsideration of
the order, claiming that Horsley was not entitled to an award
of attorney's fees because its request for modification
of benefits did not involve "compensability of an
injury" as required under Wyo. Stat. Ann. §
27-14-602(d). The OAH denied the motion. The Division then
filed a petition for review of that Order. It was docketed in
the district court as Case No. 16884. The district court
consolidated the appeals.
While the Division's appeals were pending, Horsley
submitted a request for attorney's fees in Case C-103. In
response, the OAH issued an order staying its decision on the
motion until the pending appeals were resolved. The request