October 15, 2021
DC Courts have ruled that interlocutory review is available for interlocutory agency actions so long as the matter to be reviewed meets the requirements for the Collateral Order Doctrine. The Collateral Order Doctrine is only meant to apply to a small number of non-final orders. The test for whether a non-final order meets the requirements of the Collateral Order Doctrine is stringent and necessitates three findings: (1) the issue to be reviewed must conclusively determine a disputed question of law; (2) the issue to be reviewed must be sufficiently important and independent of the cause which is still subject to adjudication; and (3) the issue to be reviewed would be effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment. In Riley v. DC Dept. of Employment Services, et al., the petitioner filed a workers compensation claim and sought an informal proceeding to resolve his claim. The employer filed to remove the case from the informal proceeding to a formal hearing. The petitioner moved to dismiss the employer’s removal which was denied. Petitioner then filed an interlocutory appeal of the denial of the motion to dismiss which was also denied. The court ruled that the denial of the petitioner’s interlocutory appeal was subject to interlocutory review based on the above test under the Collateral Order Doctrine.
As a separate matter, the Court addressed 7 D.C. Code Section 32-1530(b) which requires that when a controversy develops over any amount of additional compensation to be awarded for a workers compensation claim, the Mayor shall recommend, in writing, a disposition of the controversy. In Riley, the court held that the express statutory language of 7 D.C. Code Section 32-1530(b) overrides any inconsistent regulation. In Riley, the employer tried to circumvent the statutory language and preclude the Mayor’s recommendation by filing for a formal hearing rather than the informal proceeding. The Court stated that regulations cannot stand in the way of a claimant’s right to the Mayor’s recommendation required under statute.