Rebecca Failing v. State of Delaware, (No. 137,2019 - Decided Oct. 3, 2019)

Supreme Court affirms reimbursement for mileage only to attend medical appointments, not tolls and parking.

In obtaining treatment for her work-related injury, the claimant incurred travel expenses that included mileage, tolls and parking fees. The employer reimbursed her for the mileage expense only, totaling $761.20. Claimant’s counsel filed a motion with the Board seeking reimbursement for the fees associated with tolls and parking. The Board found that pursuant to Section 2322 (g) of the Act, the claimant could only be reimbursed for mileage related to travel for medical treatment. The Supreme Court’s order indicates it agreed with the reasoning of the Superior Court.

The court explained that Section 2322 (g) is unambiguous and cannot be reasonably interpreted in any other manner than its plain meaning. In other words, there are no reasonable doubts regarding the meaning of the term “mileage.” The claimant had cited other sections of the Act that provide reimbursement for “travel expenses,” but the court stated they were irrelevant as they would reasonably assume that the Legislature was and is aware of its choice of statutory language, and thus, they fully intended Section 2322 (g) to reflect only mileage as compensable. The court stated that the law demands that the court must assume that the Legislature amended Section 2322 (g) with the intent to use the specific term “mileage” despite the knowledge that other sections of the Act, including Section 2353, use the broader term “travel expenses.” Therefore, the court held that since Section 2322 (g) is plainly unambiguous, the Board had correctly interpreted and applied the law to its decision. Since that decision was free from legal error, it was affirmed.


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