The South Dakota Supreme Court, in a decision that was unanimous and written by Chief Justice David Gilbertson, has overruled an administrative law judge and a circuit judge in the worker compensation case of a Sioux Falls woman. Patricia Wheeler had been working three jobs when she was injured at one of them, the Cinnabon at the Empire Mall. She was unable to keep working at her other jobs at Westside Casino and a convenience store in Sioux Falls. Wheeler was granted worker compensation based only on her Cinnabon earnings; her lawyers contended the Cinnabon injury kept her from working at all and the earnings from her other jobs should be part of the calculation as well. Wrote Chief Justice Gilbertson:
The definition of “earnings” in SDCL 62-1-1(6) is ambiguous. We,
therefore, interpret “earnings” in Wheeler’s favor. Because “earnings” is utilized to
calculate a worker’s AWW, we hold that SDCL 62-4-24, SDCL 62-4-25, and SDCL
62-4-26 allow for the aggregation of wages when an injury at one employment
renders the worker incapable of performing that employee’s other concurrently held
To read the full decision released Thursday in Wheeler go here.