Thursday, July 25, 2013

Commission reverses future medical award

The Commission reversed an award of open medical and concluded that any need for future medical treatment flowed from the worker's pre-existing COPD because her work-related pneumonia had resolved.   Claimant sprayed hog barns at Premium Stand Farms and states her job exposed her to water spray, manure, urine and afterbirth.  Navis v Premium Standard Farm, 2013 MO WCLR Lexis 128 (July 18, 2013), affirmed WD 76756 (May 20, 2014).

Premium Stand Farms processed 110,000 sows and 18 million pigs a year.  the ALJ found she developed legionella bacteria  which likely arose from her exposure at work, even though she had other risk of infection.  The ALJ found claimant 50% disabled from her work exposure and totally disabled against the Fund due to prior COPD.

Claimant denied prior symptoms. The ALJ noted:   "She wishes to have her total disability assessed against the employer alone. I do not know if the claimant is mistaken or if she is not being truthful and afraid she would not receive compensation due to the current financial condition of the Second Injury Fund."  The ALJ further rejected her allegations of new and old psychiatric injury.  "I also do not believe that she has any psychological problems that combined with her existing disabilities that caused an increase in her disability. All of the conditions causing the claimant to be unable to work are not involved with her psychological condition. I did not find Mr. Schmidt's testimony correct or relevant to this Award."

 The experts disagreed on the correct respiratory diagnosis or whether the employer's use of super-heated hoses essentially eliminated any  risk of exposure.  A dissenting commissioner felt claimant failed to prove work was a substantial factor in her medical condition.