Legal Case Review: Paula Smith-Adams Against Fairfax County School Board

4 pages
933 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Case study
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The paper involves a review of the case by Paula Smith-Adams against Fairfax County School Board. Paula (claimant) had filled the case at the court of appeals of Virginia against a decision by the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission who allegedly made a mistake by implementing a termination agreement and rejecting her plea for penalties and benefits concerning an award in June 2005. However, the court of appeal affirmed the commissions ruling on the ground that there was no error committed.

Background of the Case

Initially, Paula was an employee at the Fairfax County Public Schools and served as a guidance counselor. On February 23rd, 2005, she became injured in a car accident and proceeded to demand compensation. On 17th June that year, the institution agreed to partially compensate her as they offered temporary total disability benefits and also give her lifetime medical benefits. However, the institution failed to pay for the medical equipment as recommended by Paulas medic. This prompted her to apply for a hearing on January 9th, 2006 (Court of Appeals of Virginia Published Opinions, 2017).

Three days later, both the claimant and her employer filled two forms with the commission. The first document named Supplemental Agreement to Pay Varying Temporary Partial Benefits that resulted in an agreement of modification of the unresolved award to temporary partial disability benefits award that was to be waged from May to August 2015. Moreover, they filed the second document termed Termination of Wage Loss Award which involved ending the unsettled award by August 2015 mainly because Paula had returned to her work on 9th same month.

The commission, however, failed to act on the two documents because of the unresolved claim for the medical equipment. To expedite the case, the parties reached an agreement concerning payment of the equipment and directed the commission to proceed with the case on June 9th, 2006. Although they submitted a stipulated order, the commission disregarded their efforts and took no action. On April 3rd, the commission through a notice made the parties aware of an unresolved award in the case and subsequently advised them to effect Termination of Wage Loss Award if payments have concluded. The commission further reiterated the notice and went on to advise Paula on her entitlement of cost of living modification on her reward.

Despite being served with the notices, the parties failed to respond up to October 2013 where Paula sent notice concerning the withdrawal of her initial offers to enter an agreement with her employer. In quick response, the employer argued that the agreements had been sent to the commission in early 2016. This led to the full hearing of the matter by the commission. During the hearing, the claimant narrated her ordeal about missing work due to medical problems and other medical checkups up to the present day. In her submissions, she accepted signing the two agreements which guaranteed termination of her compensation claims and admitted she never asked for extra wage loss benefits until October 2013 (Justia US law, 2017).

After hearing the case decisively, the deputy commissioner held that claimant had signed a contract of terminating her benefits thus the employer had no case to answer. This prompted the claimant to appeal the decision at the appeal court. The appeal case was based the purported errors made by the commission concerning the employees right, mistake of a commission of refusing to approve proposed agreement forms and enforcing void agreements.

Court Of Appeal Rulings

In its first judgment, the court agreed with the commission concerning denying compensation based on a failure of the claimant to substantiate her case. Secondly, the court rejected claims by Paula that the commission violated her rights by canceling her previous agreements. Furthermore, the court dismissed her assertions that the commission failed to require to force her employer to file a change of condition application. The court ruled that the employer complied with the code 65.2-701 by filing the executed agreement forms.

In its last judgment, the court extensively analyzed the claimant assertions that the commission made a mistake in concluding that staff who demands open award must request his/her employer to obey the award order. Although the claim was legit, the court ruled that the commission did not rule that she has a responsibility to observe entry of the affected agreements. The court concluded that the commission did not make any mistake and thus affirmed their decision (Find Law, 2017).

My Analysis of the Court Of Appeal Rulings

I fully agree with the courts verdicts. The court extensively used constitutions sections to ascertain the rights of the claimant concerning the matter while basing in mind the constitutional privileges of her employer. To make the case genuine, the appeal court was not biased while addressing the said commission errors that the claimant had appealed against. The judgment was also legit because it used evidence from previous related cases when arriving at the decisions. This verdict is likely to positively impact the Fairfax County school board as it relieves them from the compensation burden. Additionally, the case will be vital for the institution in addressing future related cases about compensation. Furthermore, it is critical in understanding the rights of both employee and employer in a given organization.



Court of Appeals of Virginia Published Opinions (2017). Retrieved 25 September 2017, from

Justia US law. (2017). Paula Smith-Adams v. Fairfax County School Board. Justia Law. Retrieved 25 September 2017, from

Find Law. (2017). Court of Appeals of Virginia case and opinions. Find law. Retrieved 25 September 2017, from


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