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Workers’ Compensation – Casuation – Back Injury – Recurrence – Medical Testimony

Workers’ Compensation – Casuation – Back Injury – Recurrence – Medical Testimony

Alawar v. Courtyard Marriott North (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-16-1122, 11 pp.) (Cheri Beasley, J.) Appealed from the Industrial Commission. N.C. App. Unpub. Click here for the full-text opinion.

Holding: Dr. Shehzad Choudry expressed his opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that plaintiff’s current need for surgery is related to the back injury he suffered while working for the defendant-employer in 2003. Dr. Leonard Nelson also opined that plaintiff’s current condition is a “natural consequence” of his original injury. The fact that the doctors also gave conflicting testimony that lessened their certainty concerning the cause of plaintiff’s current condition goes to the weight of their testimony, but it does not preclude consideration of the testimony altogether.

Conflicting evidence does not render evidence incompetent, even when the evidence is one party’s conflicting testimony.

We affirm the Industrial Commission’s award of benefits. We reverse the award of costs and attorney’s fees.

The Commission found defendants offered no competent medical evidence to contradict plaintiff’s claim that his current injury was related to his 2003 injury, and that as a result of this injury plaintiff has been restricted from all work since Oct. 21, 2009. This finding led the Commission to conclude that defendants’ defense of plaintiff’s claim was unreasonable, and therefore plaintiff was entitled to payment of his litigation costs and attorney’s fees. We disagree.

The evidence is conflicting. We cannot agree that defendants’ defense of plaintiff’s claim was unreasonable. Accordingly, we reverse the Commission’s award of litigation costs and attorneys’ fees to plaintiff.

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