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Tag Archives: disability

Workers’ Compensation – Disability – Release to Work – Burden of Proof – Shoulder Injury (access required)

McCoy v. Aramark Corp. Where plaintiff received a full-duty work release, did not look for work following that release, and did not show that it would be futile for him to search for employment, plaintiff failed to prove that he remained disabled. Plaintiff is entitled to temporary total disability benefits from Feb. 6, 2009 through Feb. 22, 2010. Defendants shall pay medical expenses related to plaintiff’s shoulder injury, and there is a substantial risk that he will need future medical treatment for his right shoulder.

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Workers’ Compensation – Disability – Commission’s Conclusions — Russell Factors (access required)

Thompson v. Carolina Cabinet Co. In concluding that plaintiff is disabled, the Industrial Commission seems to have combined the first and third prongs from Russell v. Lowes Product Distrib., 108 N.C. App. 762, 425 S.E.2d 454 (1993). We remand for clarification as to whether plaintiff proved disability by “(1) the production of medical evidence that he is physically or mentally, as a consequence of the work related injury, incapable of work in any employment” or “(3) the production of evidence that he is capable of some work but that it would be futile because of preexisting conditions, i.e., age, inexperience, lack of education, to seek other employment,” neither or both. Remanded.

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Workers’ Compensation – Disability – Release to Work – Subsequent Restrictions – Costs Charged to Plaintiff (access required)

Fuller v. Best Services Group, Inc. Where plaintiff’s physician, Dr. Cohen, released plaintiff to return to full duty on Jan. 8, 2009, this supports the Industrial Commission’s termination of plaintiff’s temporary total disability benefits as of Jan. 8, 2009, despite Dr. Cohen’s May 20, 2009 limitation of plaintiff to light duty and imposition of permanent restrictions. We affirm the Industrial Commission’s award of temporary total disability benefits only through Jan. 8, 2009 and the Commission’s taxation of costs against plaintiff (in the form of a credit to defendants).

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Workers’ Compensation – Disability – Back Injury – No Work Restrictions – Defendants’ Filing Delay (access required)

Blakeney v. Blythe Construction, Inc. After plaintiff drove a heavy roller machine into a fuel truck - at a low speed, resulting in no damage to either vehicle - plaintiff sought medical attention and was prescribed medication for a back strain. However, none of his doctors imposed work restrictions; therefore, plaintiff failed to prove any disability resulting from his work-related accident. We affirm the Industrial Commission’s denial of benefits after Jan. 25, 2008 for plaintiff’s Nov. 14, 2007 injury.

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Workers’ Compensation – Disability – Light Work Capacity – Unreasonable Job Search (access required)

Price v. Mental Health Association Plaintiff’s doctor said plaintiff was capable of performing light work, such as that offered by the defendant-employer, and vocational tests showed that plaintiff was capable of doing sedentary work for 20 hours a week. This evidence supports the Industrial Commission’s determination that plaintiff did not meet the first disability test of Russell v. Lowes Product Distribution, 108 N.C. App. 762, 425 S.E.2d 454 (1993): “the production of medical evidence that [she] is physically or mentally, as a consequence of the work related injury, incapable of work in any employment....”

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Labor & Employment – Public Employees – Retirement – Disability – Vested Benefits – DIP (access required)

Smith v. Teachers’ & State Employees’ Retirement System Even though, when plaintiff first went to work for the state in 1986, disability retirement benefits were more generous than they are under the 1988 plan - the Disability Income Plan (DIP) - state employees’ rights in their retirement benefits do not vest until they have worked for the state for five years. Since plaintiff’s rights in her retirement benefits did not vest until 1991, her disability retirement benefits are payable under DIP rather than the previous plan.

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Workers’ Compensation – Disability – Futility – Back Injury – Medical Evidence (access required)

Adams v. Parts Unlimited Where plaintiff proved disability by “the production of evidence that he is capable of some work but that it would be futile because of preexisting conditions, i.e., age, inexperience, lack of education, to seek other employment,” Russell v. Lowes Product Distribution, 108 N.C. App. 762, 425 S.E.2d 454 (1993), plaintiff was not required to also produce medical evidence that he physically or mentally incapable of work in any employment. We affirm the Industrial Commission’s award of ongoing temporary total disability and medical benefits.

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Workers’ Compensation – Disability – Hand Injury – Pre-Existing Depression – Aggravation (access required)

Campbell v. National Pipe & Plastics, Inc. Even though an expert witness could not identify the degree to which plaintiff’s compensable hand injury contributed to the aggravation of her pre-existing depression, and even though the expert said plaintiff had a variety of stressors in addition to her work-related injury, the expert’s testimony was nevertheless competent evidence as to causation.

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Workers’ Compensation – Causation – Dermatitis – Disability – Insufficient Findings (access required)

Tincher v. Adecco The Industrial Commission’s conclusion that plaintiff’s dermatitis was a compensable occupational disease is supported by its assessment of the credibility of the expert witnesses and its finding of fact: “Based on the sudden onset of plaintiff’s rash after he commenced work on the older lathe in November 2007, the location of the rash in the area where plaintiff’s skin was exposed to [Quakercool 3750], the prompt reporting of the rash to a supervisor ..., plaintiff’s consultation with a medical care provider on February 2, 2007 regarding his symptoms, the lack of any evidence that the rash was fungal or that plaintiff suffered from similar symptoms prior to his exposure to [Quakercool 3750] ..., the general opinions of Dr. Highley and Ms. Reynolds, the fact that [other doctors] restricted plaintiff from working with the ‘offending substance,’ and Dr. Lawson’s opinion that plaintiff’s dermatitis was ‘probably related to [Quakercool 3750],’ the undersigned finds that plaintiff’s work-related exposure to the industrial coolant either caused or significantly contributed to his chronic dermatitis on both hands beginning approximately on November 1, 2007.”

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Workers’ Compensation – Disability – Doctor’s Testimony – Contradictory Conclusions (access required)

Minor v. United Health Services, Inc. The Industrial Commission found - based on the doctor it found most credible - that plaintiff's continuing back pain is likely attributable to factors unrelated to her back injury, such as her obesity and age. Despite making this finding of fact, the commission concluded that plaintiff was entitled to disability compensation. The commission's findings of fact do not support its conclusion that plaintiff's inability to obtain employment was caused by her work injury. Reversed and remanded.

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