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Workers’ Compensation – Causation – Head & Neck Injuries – Somatoform Disorder & Malingering Evidence

Workers’ Compensation – Causation – Head & Neck Injuries – Somatoform Disorder & Malingering Evidence

Even though plaintiff’s doctors testified that her current pain and cognitive impairment were caused by her injuries at work, the Industrial Commission was free to, and did, believe defendants’ experts, who testified that plaintiff appeared to be malingering or suffering from somatoform disorder and that her current problems were not caused by her injuries at work.

We affirm the Commission’s denial of further benefits.

The totality of the testimony of plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Sypher – especially his explanation that “[i]f it is found that there are some challenges to [plaintiff’s] veracity, it is very inappropriate to place all the blame for her current disability on that fall” – supports the Commission’s finding that, if plaintiff was deemed not credible by the Commission, then Dr. Sypher would not causally relate her disability to her 2011 fall at work.

The Commission gave plaintiff the benefit of the presumption from Parsons v. Pantry, Inc., 126 N.C. App. 540, 485 S.E.2d 867 (1997), but the Commission concluded that defendants rebutted the presumption. Defendants’ experts provided testimony and medical evidence in the form of a physical examination and neuropsychological test tending to show that plaintiff’s continued pain and cognitive impairment reflected frank malingering or somatoform disorder, as opposed to a prior compensable neck and shoulder injury.

While the Commission could have determined that the Parsons presumption had not been rebutted upon weighing the testimony of the parties’ experts, the Commission weighed the testimony and reached the opposite conclusion. We are bound by the unchallenged and supported findings of the Commission even if there is plenary evidence for contrary findings.


Lassiter v. Keystone Freight Corp. (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-132-18, 19 pp.) (Lucy Inman, J.) Appealed from the Industrial Commission. Daniel Deuterman, Jack Waissen and Zachary Marquand for plaintiff; Susan Briggs and Michele Friedlander Eagle for defendants. N.C. App. Unpub.



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