Scarbrough v. Cherokee Enters

In Scarbrough v. Cherokee Enters., 306 Ark. 641, 816 S.W.2d 876 (1991), Scarbrough urged the court to adopt a new standard of review in workers' compensation cases in which the appellate court would require a finding that the Commission's decision is supported not just by "substantial evidence," but by "substantial evidence on the record as a whole." If the court should adopt that standard of review, the appellate court would be allowed to consider the entire record compiled by the administrative law judge rather than reviewing only the findings of the Commission. The court rejected that argument and concluded: "We feel the constraint of stare decisis, especially when dealing with legislative intent in the interpretation of a statute. Section 11-9-711(b)(4) requires the Court to affirm the Commission's decision if it is supported by substantial evidence. This Court and the Court of Appeals have interpreted substantial evidence consistently over the past fifty years. The General Assembly is presumed to have known of our decisions. ... If we were to reinterpret the term "substantial evidence" at this point to include "on the record as a whole," we would be overruling precedent without a compelling reason appearing in this case." (306 Ark. at 644-45, 816 S.W.2d at 877-78.) Although the court said that an argument that a claimant's right to due process might be persuasive, it "saved for another day the question of whether a constitutional violation may result when the Workers' Compensation Commission and a reviewing court are permitted to ignore the findings of an Administrative Law Judge, the only adjudicator to see and hear the witnesses." (306 Ark. at 642, 816 S.W.2d at 876.)