Liranzo v. Morales Auto Repair

Submitted by New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

This case, Liranzo v. Morales Auto Repair, was brought to the Superior Court of N.J. from the N.J. Department of Labor & Workforce Development, Division of Workers’ Compensation. The appeal challenges a judge’s compensation’s award to an employee of Morales Auto Repair (“MAR’S”). The previous judge’s determination that the employee, Pedro Liranzo, was employed by Morales Auto Repair when he sustained injuries and was entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Superior Court vacated the reward and remanded for reconsideration because they found errors in the judge’s findings as he did not base his ruling on a legal basis and undermined the ability of the court to perform a review.

Liranzo filed the initial motion after worker’s compensation benefits against MAR after he injured his right hand falling off a ladder while working on MAR’s sign. In his answer, Morales denied Liranzo’s motion stating he wasn’t a MAR employee. The facts of the case directly conflict as to whether Liranzo was working on a MAR’s sign due to employment by MAR or because of other obligations. In his oral decision, the judge of compensation ruled in favor of Liranzo, stating that he was an employee of MAR due to a preponderance of the credible evidence. However, this judge gave no legal basis for his ruling, creating an almost entirely arbitrary ruling.

The Superior Court started this appeal stating the correct factors and applying them to the case. The court went on to say that this was a contested matter between two completely different stories about Liranzo’s employment status, but yet the judge of compensation made no credibility findings. The judge also failed to make any effort to apply whatever facts he found to the applicable law. The court reasoned that due to this the judge did not satisfy his obligations as his “naked conclusions” did not correlate with factual findings applied to relevant legal conclusions. Thus, the court were forced to vacate the judge of compensation’s award and remand for reconsideration with the new judgment needing to be supported by findings of facts and conclusions of law.

At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in worker’s compensation matters who were unduly prejudiced by arbitrary rulings made by compensation judges. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to make sure your case is not burdened by non-legal, whimsical rulings. We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing any type of criminal charge, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey, including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean and Salem counties.

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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