Ark. Court to Consider Workers Comp Fairness Issue

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Supreme Court has agreed to consider an injured man's argument that the state Workers Compensation Commission can effectively operate as a one-person panel in violation of the constitution.

Arkansas Chief Justice Jim Hannah said the court would consider the argument raised by attorney Rick Spencer on behalf of Edward Williams of Mountain Home. Williams was injured in a fall from scaffolding while working for Johnson Custom Homes in 2004 in Baxter County. The commission denied Williams' claim for compensation, and he appealed.

Spencer raised the constitutional challenge, saying the commission was structured in such a way that it could violate the due-process clause. He argues that the panel can be overly influenced by the governor, who appoints all three commission members.

The system is unfair, he says, because the votes of two of the commissioners "almost invariably" support the interests of the person who appoint them.

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