Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Commission finds "same, just worse" enough to award benefits

Claimant established new disability from aggravation of prior conditions despite prior treatment and settlements for the same body parts, in Tabor v Clinton Schneider Foods, reversing a denial of benefits.  2014 MO WCLR 60, 61.

The Commission found claimant sustained new disabilities of 15% to the neck and 15% of the back based on the findings that claimant aggravated previous disc disease.  Claimant had a previous settlement for 20% BAW with a prior employer but reported symptoms worsened, and he had undergone additional treatment including facet blocks and therapy and had a new finding of a lumbar disc herniation.  The Commission regarded claimant's expert more credible based on more detailed  consideration of the specific job duties.

In a companion case,  2014 Mo WCLR Lexis 61, the commission found claimant's exposure taping boxes aggravated his bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome which had been diagnosed 5 years before his employment.  The ALJ had found no causation and that claimant's prior symptoms had never gone away.  Claimant had undergone a bilateral carpal tunnel release following a temporary award of benefits and the Commission reversed a denial of benefits and awarded 15% ppd of each wrist. 

The commission denied benefits in a third case, 2014 MO WCLR Lexis 59. Several of  claimant's own experts provided opinions which did not support the award of new disability allocated to that event. 

The commission made its own findings of facts in the cases and criticized the ALJ for not initially making all of the necessary findings and then not doing "something" for a year when the case was remanded.  It cited the "needless burden" the Commission incurred by having to make findings of fact and conclusions of law and criticized the ALJ for not disposing of matters "promptly, efficiently and fairly...." 

ALJ  Siedlik
Atty: Stanley, Wenger
Experts:  Koprivica, Swaim, Wheeler
Treater Guinn