R. K. GROUNDS CARE, ET AL.
KEVIN D. WILSON
Court for Carroll County Case No. 06-C-15-069437
Deborah S., Meredith, Arthur, JJ.
Deborah S., J.
appeal, we hold that the Workers' Compensation Commission
("Commission") does not have jurisdiction to decide
whether money payable in an approved settlement of a claim is
subject to garnishment.
suffering an injury at work on December 14, 2012, Kevin D.
Wilson, the appellee, brought a workers' compensation
claim against his employer, R.K. Grounds Care
("RK"), and RK's insurer, Chesapeake Employers
Insurance Company ("Chesapeake"), the appellants.
On March 14, 2014, the parties agreed to settle the claim for
$3, 500, which included an attorneys' fee and a medical
evaluation fee. The settlement was memorialized in an
"Agreement of Final Compromise and Settlement"
("Agreement"), which was submitted to the
Commission for approval. On March 20, 2014, the Commission
issued an order approving the settlement with one small
change that is of no consequence to this appeal.
time of all these events, three child support arrearage cases
were pending against Wilson in the Circuit Court for Carroll
County. On March 31, 2014, in that court, the
Carroll County Bureau of Support Enforcement
("Bureau") filed a "Notice of Child Support
Lien" in each child support case, for a total of $ 6,
691.69 in child support arrears. As we shall discuss, the
child support liens operated as judgments. RK and Chesapeake
were notified of the child support liens that same day.
April 2, 2014, Chesapeake paid the attorneys' fee and
medical evaluation fee due under the Agreement. The $2,
246.66 balance of the settlement money, i.e.,
Wilson's share, was far less than his child support
arrearage. Chesapeake advised Wilson's lawyer by email
that day that "claimant has a child support lien so his
portion is not being sent out." Two days later, it
further advised Wilson's lawyer that it was awaiting
receipt of writs of garnishment and was planning to send all
of Wilson's share of the settlement to the Bureau. By
email of May 6, 2014, Wilson's counsel informed
Chesapeake that, in his view, the Bureau was not entitled to
receive the full amount of Wilson's share of the
2, 2014, the Circuit Court for Carroll County issued writs of
garnishment in two of the child support cases, and, on July
8, 2014, it issued a writ of garnishment in the third case.
The writs were served on Chesapeake as garnishee and mailed
to Wilson as judgment debtor. Wilson did not file a motion
(or any paper) in the garnishment proceedings. On August 5,
2014, Chesapeake issued three checks to the Bureau, judgment
creditor, for sums totaling the full amount of Wilson's
share of the settlement.On August 14, 2014, Chesapeake filed
answers in all three child support cases. Based on the
payments made by Chesapeake, the judgments for child support
arrearages in two cases were marked partially satisfied and
the judgment in the third case was marked fully satisfied.
than three months later, on November 26, 2014, Wilson filed
an "Issues" form with the Commission stating,
"COMMISSION APPROVED THE AGREEMENT OF FINAL COMPROMISE
AND SETTLEMENT ON 3/18/14, BUT THE CLAIMANT IS STILL AWAITING
RECEIPT OF HIS SHARE OF SETTLEMENT PROCEEDS."
April 29, 2015, the Commission held a hearing, which
consisted of argument of counsel. Wilson took the position
that his share of the settlement money was exempt from
garnishment, under Md. Code (1974, 2013 Repl. Vol.), section
11-504 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article
("CJP"), and therefore Chesapeake should have paid
it to him, not to the Bureau. RK and Chesapeake argued that
that exemption did not apply. On July 6, 2015, the Commission
issued a final order finding that CJP section 11-504(b)(2)
applied to exempt Wilson's share from garnishment but
that an exception in CJP section 11-504(i)(2) also applied.
The Commission determined that, under the exception, 75% of
Wilson's share of the settlement money had been subject
to garnishment; therefore, Chesapeake should have paid Wilson
$421.99 of his share. It further found that the Bureau had
$529 in escrow, and that the $421.99 should be paid by the
Bureau to Wilson. It ordered, however, "that in the
event no monies remain in escrow, that [RK and Chesapeake] be
responsible for paying the amount due [$421.99] to
with that outcome, RK and Chesapeake filed a petition for
judicial review of the Commission's final order in the
Circuit Court for Carroll County. The parties stipulated to
the material facts and asked the court to render a decision
based on the law.
hearing, the court issued a memorandum opinion ruling that
workers' compensation settlements are subject to
garnishment under Title 10 of the Family Law Article; that
garnishments under that title are limited by CJP section
11-504(b)(2); that CJP section 11-504(b)(2) applied; and that
pursuant to CJP section 11-504(i)(2), 25% of Wilson's
share of the settlement funds could be garnished. In an
accompanying order, the court affirmed in part and reversed
in part the final order of the Commission; determined that
Wilson was entitled to $1, 684.99 (75% of his share of the
settlement money); and ordered that "notwithstanding any
prior payments which may have been made to the [Bureau], [RK]
and [Chesapeake] are responsible for making" the $1,
684.99 payment to Wilson.
Chesapeake noted this timely appeal, presenting three
questions for review, which we have consolidated and
I. Did the circuit court err by ruling that CJP section
11-504(b)(2) applied to Wilson's share of the settlement?
II. If not, did the circuit court err by ruling that under
CJP section 11-504(i), 25% of Wilson's share of the
settlement was subject to garnishment for unpaid child
shall not address either question because, as stated above,
we conclude that the Commission lacked subject matter
jurisdiction to decide whether Wilson's share of the
settlement money (or any part of that share) was exempt from