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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court

(Amended 02/12/15)

No. SCWC-11-0001106, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 8:45 a.m.

JULIANA J. ZHANG, Petitioner/Claimant-Appellant, vs. STATE OF HAWAI`I, DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES, Respondent/Employer-Appellee, Self-Insured.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorney for Petitioner:

Lila Barbara Kanae

Attorneys for Respondent:

James E. Halvorson and Steve K. Miyasaka, Deputy Attorneys General

NOTE: Certificate of Recusal, by Associate Justice Michael D. Wilson, filed 01/15/15.

NOTE: Order assigning Circuit Court Judge R. Mark Browning, in place of Wilson, J., recused, filed 01/22/15.

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 02/04/15.

COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SSM, and RWP, JJ.; and Circuit Court Judge Browning, in place of Wilson, J., recused.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Petitioner/Claimant-Appellant Juliana J. Zhang (“Zhang”) filed an application for writ of certiorari, seeking review of the Intermediate Court of Appeals’ (ICA) October 24, 2014 Judgment on Appeal, entered pursuant to its September 15, 2014 Summary Disposition Order. The ICA’s judgment affirmed the Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board’s (LIRAB) December 6, 2011 Decision and Order, which affirmed in part, reversed in part, and modified in part several decisions by the Director of Labor and Industrial Relations (Director) regarding Zhang’s entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits for temporary total disability (TTD), vocational rehabilitation (VR), permanent partial disability, and medical treatment for a mental stress injury that Zhang suffered while working as an employee for Respondent/Employer-Appellee State of Hawai`i, Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR). Approximately one month after filing her claim for workers’ compensation benefits, Zhang was terminated from employment because she allegedly did not have proper authorization to continue working in the United States.

Zhang raises two issues. First, Zhang argues that she is entitled to TTD payments that were erroneously denied based on the LIRAB’s finding that she is entitled to further VR services. DLNR argues that the denial was proper because no medical reports dated after the date of the hearing at which TTD was denied certified that Zhang was totally disabled from work as a result of her work injury. DLNR also argues that Zhang is not entitled to TTD because she has not enrolled in a VR plan.

Second, Zhang argues that she was improperly terminated in violation of HRS § 386-142 because her alleged lack of employment authorization was used to cover up the improper termination. DLNR contends that Zhang was terminated due to her failure to provide required employment authorization documents and not due to her work injury.