Barahona v Hilton Hotel
July 7, 2017
10-043312, 10-110361, 10-111518, 11-031709
The Commission affirmed an award of total disability to a kitchen employee who slipped and fell in 2011, hit her head, twisted her back and required knee surgery.
The claimant had four claims of orthopedic injuries over a period of about 10 months in 2010-2011.. The Commission determined the last accident alone produced her work limitations based on the opinion of Dr. Volarich, although he Commission noted some of the functional limitations identified by the ALJ appeared to combine pre-accident and post-accident symptoms. Her vocational expert concluded she was a total due a combination of old and new impairments.
The Commission noted:
"For example, employee’s current and ongoing need for assistance with activities of daily living; her need for daily narcotic medications in connection with multiple pain-generating conditions; and her limitations with regard to prolonged sitting and standing would all appear to involve at least some component of disability referable to employee’s preexisting injuries and disability conditions.
Likewise, employee’s bilateral ankle problems clearly involve disability referable to her prior work injuries of June and July 2010 affecting the right ankle. Accordingly, we must disclaim, from the numbered list spanning pages 49 and 50, the above-mentioned items, as we are convinced each involve some component of disability or impairment not referable solely to the effects of the last work injury."
Claimant described headaches, memory loss, back pain, and capacity to stand only a matter of seconds without pain. The employer-designated doctor felt she was capable of sedentary work. The ALJ noted she is 55 years old, has an eighth grade education from Honduras, she is unable to spell, she has poor concentration and orientation, she was depressed, she requires narcotics and rest breaks, among other limitations.
The ALJ noted that Dr. Kitchens concluded claimant's back findings were degenerative in nature and disputed claimant's theory that she had a traumatic annular tear as the source of her numerous symptoms. In addition, the Commission affirmed 3 additional PPD awards for accidents preceding the last accident.
Experts: Volarich, Eldrid, Olive, Kitchens, England