from a district court order denying a petition for judicial
review of a workers' compensation award. First Judicial
District Court, Carson City; James Todd Russell, Judge.
Reversed and remanded.
B. Beavers, Nevada Attorney for Injured Workers, and Edward
L. Oueilhe, Deputy Nevada Attorney for Injured Workers,
Carson City, for Appellant.
Thorndal, Armstrong, Delk, Balkenbush & Eisinger and
Robert F. Balkenbush and John D. Hooks, Reno, for
HARDESTY, PARRAGUIRRE and STIGLICH, JJ.
compensation benefits are based on a percentage of a
worker's average monthly wage; therefore, the proper
calculation of a claimant's average monthly wage is of
paramount importance. Uncompensated volunteers are provided
with a "deemed wage, " a fictional salary from
which benefits can be calculated if a volunteer, who would
not otherwise be an "employee, " is injured in the
course of volunteer work; This appeal requires us to
determine whether a claimant who is injured during the course
of volunteer work, who also has concurrent private
employment, should have his average monthly wage based solely
on his "deemed wage" from volunteer work, or
whether he is entitled to have his deemed wage be aggregated
with earnings from his concurrent private employment. Because
the plain language of our relevant workers' compensation
statutes and regulations requires the aggregation of
concurrently earned wages, we reverse the district
court's denial of appellant's petition for judicial
review and remand to the district court with instructions to
grant the petition and to remand the matter to the appeals
officer for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Gregory Felton, sustained a minor injury to his knee while
volunteering on a Douglas County search and rescue team. At
that time, Felton worked for Hewlett-Packard as a quality
his injury, Felton filed a claim seeking insurance benefits
from Douglas County and its workers' compensation
insurance carrier, the Public Agency Compensation Trust
(PACT). The third-party claims adjustor, Alternative Service
Concepts (ASC), notified Felton by letter that it had
calculated his average monthly wage (AMW) for the purpose of
determining the amount of benefits to which he would be
entitled under his claim. ASC based its calculations upon the
statutorily deemed wage of a search and rescue volunteer as
set forth in NRS 616A.157, which is $2, 000 per month. ASC
awarded Felton a one-percent permanent partial disability
(PPD) or whole person impairment (WPI). Felton disputed the
ASC award as to both his AMW and PPD and sought review by a
hearing officer. Before the hearing officer, Felton argued
that his deemed wage and his earned wage at Hewlett-Packard
should be aggregated. The hearing officer affirmed the ASC
award in its entirety. Felton appealed only the hearing
officer's determination that his AMW should be set at the
statutorily deemed wage of a search and rescue
appeals officer affirmed the hearing officer's
determination and held that, as a matter of law, Felton was
not entitled to an AMW that aggregated his statutorily deemed
wage and his earned wage from his private employment.
filed a timely petition for judicial review, arguing that the
appeals officer erred as a matter of law by not aggregating
his statutorily deemed wage for volunteer work with his
actual earned wage. The district court denied Felton's
petition in a written order.
standard for reviewing petitions for judicial review of
administrative decisions is the same for this court as it is
for the district court." City of Reno v. Bldg. &
Constr. Trades Council of N. Nev., 127 Nev. 114, 119,
251 P.3d 718, 721 (2011). "Like the district court, we
decide pure legal questions without deference to an agency
determination." Id. (internal quotation marks
omitted). Likewise, "[w]e do not give any deference to
the district court decision when reviewing an order regarding
a petition for judicial review." Id. This court
applies a de novo standard of review to questions of law,
which includes the administrative construction of statutes.
Elizondo v. Hood Mach., Inc., 129 Nev. 780, 784-85,
312 P.3d 479, 482 (2013).
616A.065 provides a starting point for ...