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Before the Arkansas Workers' Compensation CommissionFeb 3, 1997
1997 AWCC 64 (Ark. Work Comp. 1997)

CLAIM NO. E303224


Upon review before the FULL COMMISSION in Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas.

Claimant represented by the HONORABLE PHILIP E. KAPLAN and SILAS H. BREWER, JR., Attorneys at Law, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Respondents represented by the HONORABLE PHILLIP CARROLL, Attorney at Law, Little Rock, Arkansas.


The claimant appeals and the respondent cross-appeals an opinion and order filed by the administrative law judge on July 22, 1996. In addition to the present claim, twenty-four (24) separate hearing loss claims were heard at hearings held on January 29, 30, 31 and February 1 and 5, 1996. The administrative law judge indicated that the transcript and exhibits of the hearing pertaining to all of the claims would be maintained in the Paul Babbitt file.

Each of the twenty-five (25) cases has been appealed to the Full Commission. When these appeals were submitted to the Full Commission, we received twenty-five (25) separate case files, but also one "Master File" of transcripts and exhibits, each of which may or may not be relevant to any one of the twenty-five appeals. In effect, the parties have consolidated the twenty-five (25) claims for evidentiary purposes. However, as we recently noted, the Workers' Compensation Commission does not have in place procedures for class action filings or for claims consolidation. See, Lamar Allison v. International Paper Company, Full Workers' Compensation Commission, Nov. 5, 1996 (Claim No. E303982).

These claims were remanded to the administrative law judge pursuant to an order filed on January 8, 1997, to settle the record in each of the twenty-five (25) files. The administrative law judge failed to settle the record in that we have again received twenty-five (25) appeals with a single consolidated evidentiary "Master File". We find that the consolidated evidentiary "Master File" is simply not a proper means of claims administration before the Commission. In this regard, there is no conceivable mechanism for three Commissioners to each conduct a timely de novo review of twenty-five (25) appeals with only one set of consolidated exhibits and transcripts at their combined disposal. We note that equally severe logistical constraints await the Court of Appeals should we permit the parties to proceed with a consolidated evidentiary "Master File".

Consequently, we find that this claim must again be remanded to the administrative law judge to settle the record in this and the other twenty-four (24) appeals currently sharing a consolidated evidentiary "Master File." The administrative law judge is hereby ordered and directed to take such additional action as may be necessary to ensure that each of the twenty-five (25) files currently on appealeach contains an original or acceptable copy of any and all physical exhibits, documentary exhibits, hearing transcripts, orders, trial briefs, or any other material which either the claimant, the respondent or the administrative law judge have properly made part of the record for our consideration in that particular claim.