Craig Carver v. Walmart/Sam's Club
November 9, 2021
CategoriesRes Judicata Partial Incapacity
minimum wage change of circumstances
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Craig Carver v. Walmart/Sam's Club (21-30, attached) - Carver injured his back driving truck for Walmart and received ongoing partial benefits by decree based on 40 hours at the state minimum wage. Two years later the state increased the minimum by $2, Walmart filed a petition for review asking the board to decrease Carver’s partial benefits accordingly.
Judge Hirtle agreed that the state’s minimum wage increase was a change in economic circumstances from the prior decree, and he ordered a corresponding benefit decrease. Carver appealed, and the Appellate Division vacated the decision and remanded the case back for further proceedings.
Citing its own recent decision in Martin 21-27, the panel disagreed that an increase in the minimum wage alone constitutes a change in economic circumstances. In Martin, the original decree did not use the minimum wage as a basis, but in this case the original decree specifically used it: $9 minimum wage x 40 hours = $360 per week.
The appellate division reasoned that a general wage increase for minimum-wage workers does not mean Carver had a change in his circumstances. The panel noted Walmart did not do a LMS or otherwise show how this employee’s earning capacity has been advantaged by the minimum wage increase.
The panel stated it would be unfair to require all WC beneficiaries to litigate this after every minimum wage increase (assuming they do not agree to it). They also noted that Carver's AWW is not cost-adjusted annually to keep up with minimum wage increases.