Monday, February 20, 2017

Claimant loses 17 year old case from cleaning fume exposure

Edgerton v Matherly Oil Co dba Pump N Pantry
2017 MOWCLR LEXIS 16   (Feb. 14, 2017)  (Mahon)

The commission affirmed a denial that claimant's activities cleaning a bathroom in September 2000 caused a permanent lung injury.

Claimant took a "less stressful" job as a cashier and worked only a few days before a work injury.    Claimant states she went to the emergency room the next day after using an unknown cleaning product to clean a bathroom.  She was diagnosed with acute bronchitis and gave a history of an occupational exposure and recent cold symptoms.   The records suggest a conflicting history about prior self-diagnosed conditions during her long prior career as a respiratory therapist. 

She relies upon a 2004 medical opinion from Dr. Volarich who rated 50% disability for respiratory disease.  He concluded she may be a total based on the primary and pre-existing conditions.  Dr. Hyers was unable to relate her asthma to the alleged injury.   The claimant concedes that she had multiple exposures which  triggered symptoms in the 15 years since the work injury.

"Therefore, given the lack of specificity as to the cleaning product and its ingredients, the testimony that Claimant has continued exposure to irritants in her nonemployment everyday life, and based on Dr. Hyer's expertise, I conclude that Claimant has failed in her burden of proof. I conclude there was no accident, no injury arising out of and in the course of employment, and no medical causation between Claimant's medical condition and her job duties."

The delay in prosecution appears to have negatively impacted claimant's credibility based on the ALJ's reference to the passage of time to reconcile discrepancies between claimant's testimony and the medical records.   Karen Johnson defended the case for Federal Mutual.