Friday, June 27, 2014

Fallen tree branch costs city 1/4 million in comp benefits

The commission affirmed an award of disability for orthopedic and psychiatric injuries from lifting a tree branch in 2011 and rejects the defense based on expert diagnosis of a back strain on a degenerative 64-year old spine. 

The ALJ award close to 1/4 million dollars in disability and disputed medical expenses related to a fusion surgery.  The claimant was picking up storm debris when he fell down.  He was treated by a neurosurgeon and released with a finding a strain and disc protrusion.  He sought treatment on his own and obtained a fusion for disputed instability.  He saw two psychiatrists:  one concluded he had disability from an unrelated major depressive disorder, another concluded he had new post-accident pain and mood disorders. 

The employer disputed TTD on appeal.  The  Commission indicated that the employer could not dispute the amount of TTD, based on any alleged miscalculation, if it had already stipulated to the lump sum  at the beginning of the hearing.  The Commission further found the disputed bills to be reasonable, like the ALJ, but found the   ALJ based his opinion in part on a medical report that was not part of the evidence.  Wagner v City of Maryland Heights, 2014 Mo WCLR Lexis 84 (June 18, 2014)

ALJ  Denigan
Atty:  Sievers
Experts:  Volarich, Stillings, Jarvis
Treaters:  Kitchen, Robson