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State officials in 2012 announced their intention to close the Flint Workers’ Comp Agency and to transfer all cases involving Genesee County injuries to the town of Dimondale, in southwest Michigan.  The Michigan workers’ compensation statute specifically provides that hearings in workers’ compensation cases shall be held in the “locality of injury.”  The legislative history and the caselaw interpreting the statute recognize that the reason for conducting hearings in the locality of injury is for the convenience of the parties and witnesses. We asked the Administration to reconsider its plan, and if it was determined to close the Flint Agency,  we asked it to consider moving Genesee County cases to agency sites in adjacent counties in either Saginaw or Pontiac, half the distance to Dimondale, but the Administration rejected that proposal. We filed suit against administration officials in circuit court seeking a writ of mandamus ordering the State to conduct hearings in the locality of injury. Joining in support of the claimant in the request for relief was, among others, the City of Flint, the Flint Board of Education and UAW Region 1C. The circuit court issued a writ ordering the administration to conduct hearings in the locality of injury and found that Dimondale was not in the locality of injury where the injury occurred in Genesee County.

State officials then appealed that order to the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals in a published decision affirmed the Circuit Court Judge’s order in April 2014. The Court of Appeals agreed with the Circuit Court Judge and recognized that the town of Dimondale is too far away to be considered within the “locality of injury” for cases involving injuries occurring in Genesee County.

However, when the Administration appealed again, the Michigan Supreme Court in November 2014 reversed in a memorandum opinion acknowledging that it would be inconvenient for injured workers in the Flint area to have their cases litigated four counties away in Dimondale–but ruled that it would not be unreasonably inconvenient. The Michigan Supreme Court chose to give deference to the Administration’s decision and interpretation of the statute.

The Flint Agency closed on February 12, 2015. Cases involving Genesee County injuries are now heard at the Okemos Agency. Cases involving Lapeer County injuries are heard at the Pontiac Agency. Contact our office for directions if you need assistance in finding these hearing sites.