JAMES L. MILLER, Respondent,
SHOPE CONCRETE PRODUCTS CO., Defendant, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRIES OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, Appellant.
Department of Labor and Industries appeals from a decision of
the superior court reversing an order of the Board of
Industrial Insurance Appeals. The Department asserts that the
superior court erred by determining that James Miller was
entitled to have the value of health care benefits included
in his wage computation. This is so, the Department contends,
because, at the time of Miller's injury, his employer had
made no payments or contributions toward health care benefits
on Miller's behalf. The Department is correct.
to the plain language of RCW 51.08.178(1), and consistent
with existing case authority, a worker's wage computation
includes health care benefits when the worker's employer
made payments or contributions toward those benefits at the
time of the injury. Miller concedes that, at the time of his
injury, his employer had made no payments or contributions
toward health care benefits on his behalf. Accordingly, we
reverse the decision of the superior court and reinstate the
began working for Shope Concrete Products Company on
September 10, 2012. On that day, he also began a 90-day
orientation period. Upon completion of the orientation, Shope
was to provide him with health care benefits.
and a half later, Miller suffered a lower back injury at
work. He did not complete his orientation period and did hot
return to work at Shope. Because Miller never completed the
orientation; Shope never paid or contributed funds toward
health care benefits on Miller's behalf.
applied to the Department of Labor and Industries for wage
benefits resulting from his injury. The Department allowed
Miller's claim to go forward and, a year later, issued a
wage order calculating his wages at $3, 335.20 per month. The
order did not include any amount attributable to the health
care benefits that Miller's employer would have provided
him had he completed the orientation. Miller protested the
Department's computation but the Department affirmed its
wage order. Miller then appealed the Department's order
to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. The Board
issued a decision and order affirming the Department's
exclusion of health care benefits from Miller's wage
then appealed the Board's order to the Pierce County
Superior Court. The superior court reversed, determining that
Miller's workers' compensation wages should have
included an amount attributable to health care benefits
because Shope would have provided such benefits to Miller had
he completed the orientation.
Department now appeals.
Department asserts that the trial court erred by ordering
that Miller's wage order be modified so as to include an
amount attributable to his employer's health care
payments or contributions on his behalf. This is so, the
Department contends, because, at the time of Miller's
injury, ' his employer had, in fact, never made payments
or contributions toward health care benefits on Miller's
behalf. We agree.
workers' compensation cases, we review de novo the
superior court's conclusions of law. Rogers v.
Dep't of Labor & Indus., 151 Wn.App. 174, 180,
210 P.3d 355 (2009) (quoting Watson v. Dep't of Labor
& Indus., 133 Wn.App. 903, 909, 138 P.3d 177
(2006)). "We may substitute our own judgment for that of
the agency regarding issues of law, but we give great weight
to the agency's interpretation of the law it
administers." Dep't of Labor & Indus, v.
Allen, 100 Wn.App. 526, 530, 997 P.2d 977 (2000) (citing
Dep't of Labor & Indus, v. Kantor, 94
Wn.App. 764, 772, 973 P.2d 30 (1999)).
a statute's meaning is plain on its face, then we give
effect to that plain meaning as an expression of legislative
intent." Hill v. Dep't of Labor &
Indus., 161 Wn.App. 286, 293, 253 P.3d 430 (2011)
(citing State ex rel. Citizens Against ...