Dear MSIA Member:
The MSIA Board is happy to provide you with a recent opinion vacating terrible precedent set by the Michigan Court of Appeals. This case was based on the briefs that were filed without an oral argument which is highly unusual.
Accordingly, the Michigan Court of Appeals has now been unanimously corrected by the Michigan Supreme Court, just as MSIA urged in the amicus brief it filed in the case. The Court of Appeals had made a broad ruling saying a doctor’s testimony – standing alone- could satisfy STOKES’ definition of disability without the need of additional vocational evidence.
MSIA filed a brief in the Supreme Court challenging that position. MSIA explained that, while doctors can certainly opine regarding medical restrictions, a doctor’s opinion cannot satisfy the required STOKES inquiries into the availability of work within medical restrictions, the pay level of such work, and the full breadth of an employee’s qualifications and training. The Supreme Court agreed with MSIA and vacated the Court of Appeals’ broad ruling that doctors’ opinions alone can satisfy STOKES’ disability criteria. The Supreme Court said there had been impressive vocational evidence offered by the employee in the case supporting his disability claim and the Court of Appeals’ ruling that the doctor’s opinion alone sufficed, was wrong.
Should you have any further questions regarding this decision, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned.
MSIA Executive Secretary