CIPRIANI & WERNER WINS ON CLAIMANT’S APPEAL TO THE WCAB

Post Date
04/15/13

Before the WCAB, was the Appeal of Claimant from the Decision of WCJ Seelig granting her Claim Petition against Employer, in part, and terminating Claimant’s benefits.  On November 5, 2009, Claimant filed a Claim Petition alleging that on July 18, 2009, she sustained an injury to her neck, mid, and lower back after pulling up patients in their hospital beds. She sought payment of ongoing total disability benefits as of November 3, 2009, as well as payment of medical bills. On April 16, 2013, the WCAB issued a Decision affirming the WCJ’s Decision.

By Decision and Order circulated April 29, 2011, the WCJ granted Claimant’s Claim Petition, in part, concluding that Claimant established the occurrence of a work injury as of July 18, 2009, in the nature of lumbar and cervical sprains and strains, which caused her to be totally and partially disabled until January 14, 2010, at which time, Claimant’s benefits were terminated.

Claimant challenged the WCJ’s Decision based upon receipt of after-discovered evidence in the nature of two MRI studies performed in March of 2011, which demonstrated a disc bulge and protrusion. She argued that the studies materially impacted the WCJ’s diagnosis of a strain and sprain and the duration of disability, and requested a remand.

The WCAB found that Employer’s credible medical evidence constituted sufficient evidence to support the WCJ’s determination that Claimant was fully recovered from her work injuries as of the date of his examination. The WCAB accepted Employer’s arguments:  that both Employer and Claimant’s experts testified in relation to 2009 MRIs that were negative for herniations, and therefore, additional MRIs would be cumulative; that additional MRIs would not refute the full recovery opinion in relation to Claimant’s work injury, which the WCJ accepted as fact; and that additional MRIs would directly contradict Claimant’s own medical expert’s testimony.  Lastly, the WCAB accepted Employer’s argument that the evidence in question was not truly after-discovered, as the WCJ did not issue his Decision until April 29, 2011, and Claimant failed to request further proceedings prior to then, although she had ample time to do so. This was a very significant Decision for Employer, who was only liable for less than four months of temporary disability benefits and about two months of total disability benefits, and limited medical bills in relation to soft tissue injuries only.

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