Harrell v. Palace Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (Lawyers Weekly No. 12-16-0539, 13 pp.) (Martha A. Geer, J.) Appealed from the Industrial Commission. N.C. App. Unpub. Full-text opinion.
Holding: It was up to the Industrial Commission to decide how much weight to give plaintiff’s testimony about his exposure to sodium hypochlorite; moreover, plaintiff failed to present any expert testimony that his single exposure to bleach placed him at an increased risk of developing reactive airways dysfunction syndrome.
We affirm the Commission’s denial of benefits.
Plaintiff’s expert witness, Dr. Ramaswamy, testified only as to causation (that plaintiff contracted RADS due to his work-related chlorine exposure on July, 10 2006). Plaintiff failed to present any medical evidence to prove that his employment exposed him to an increased risk of contracting RADS relative to the general public.
Plaintiff essentially argues that no expert testimony was required. However, the cases plaintiff cites are distinguishable.
Only the Commission could determine how much weight to give plaintiff’s testimony regarding the volume and concentration of the sodium hypochlorite solution he was exposed to and what inferences should be drawn from that testimony.
Given the circumstances of this case, including the lack of medical or other expert testimony and the fact that plaintiff was relying upon only a single exposure to the bleach as causing his RADS rather than long-term exposure, the Commission was entitled to decide, as it did, that plaintiff’s evidence did not establish that plaintiff had developed an occupational disease.