Friday, November 4, 2016

Employer liable for aggravating congenital neck condition.

Stevenson v Laclede Gas

2016 MO WCLR Lexis 67 (Oct. 21, 2016)

 Commission affirms 40% award. for neck surgery.

The worker underwent a three level cervical surgery following a 2004 accident when she fell while trimming trees.     The employer defended the case that the accident caused a temporary aggravation and any need for surgery arose from severe congenital defects.   Under the pre-reform standard of substantial factor, she established the accident made her condition symptomatic based on her capacity to perform heavy labor work and engage in various athletic recreational activities.  The ALJ found the opinion of the treating surgeon persuasive that claimant was capable of some employment and awarded partial rather than total disability.  ALJ Boresi made various findings about her background, including being a Homecoming Queen.


2016 MO WCLR Lexis 68

Commission affirms denial for blood pressure. 

Claimant alleged she experienced high blood pressure while performing work.  While being examined her blood pressure was 200/90.  Claimant fails to identify an accident or provide medical expert opinion to support the claim.

2016 MO WCLR Lexis 69.

The Commission affirmed a denial of disability but awarded an outstanding bill for $463.50. 

Claimant described an onset of neck pain while changing to change a valve. 

"This is largely because employee, in her testimony, failed to identify any new symptom, limitation, or other permanent disability specifically attributable to the accident of August 15, 2006. Absent supporting testimony from the employee, given the lack of any contemporaneous medical treatment record substantiating any permanent increase in her symptomatology or other limitation, and in view of the purely conclusory opinion from employee's medical expert, Dr. Robert Poetz, we are not persuaded that any permanent disability is attributable to the August 15, 2006, accident."

The Commission notes to proof of medical causation requires proof of condition and disability, but

"the statute does not require that employee prove the accident was the prevailing factor causing any permanent disability. Instead, it is sufficient that some disability -- of whatever nature, duration, or extent--resulted from the accident."

The Commission concluded because claimant had to use vacation time she established a "temporary" disability to establish causation and the employer's liability for medical bills.

The ALJ regarded claimant totally disabled and recovering from the 2004 accident at the time of the last accident in 2006.