Hellgren v. St. Mary’s Med. Ctr.

Hellgren v. St. Mary’s Med. Ctr., No. WC14-5672 (July 9, 2014)

Self-insured employer appealed compensation judge’s findings regarding the effective date of permanent total disability benefits, among other issues.

The Employee was a food service worker who contended that over the course of her 27 year employment she acquired low back pain, right hip pain, knee pain, and an Achilles tendon injury.  She alleged Gillette injuries culminating on December 5, 2011, the last date that she worked for the employer.  The employee was awarded social security disability benefits on April 13, 2012.

At hearing, the employee testified that as of December 5, 2011, she could no longer stand at work.  The compensation judge found that the employee’s work activities were a substantial contributing factor to the Gillette injury which did culminate on December 5, 2011.

On appeal, the compensation judge’s finding regarding the culmination date of a Gillette injury must be clearly erroneous and unsupported by substantial evidence to be overturned.  Hengemuhl.  The self-insured employer challenged the foundation of the employee’s vocational expert.  Nevertheless, self-insured employer had no expert opinion to the contrary.  In addition, the record included opinions of the employee and the treating physician, which found she was permanently totally disabled as of December 5, 2011.  The WCCA found that the compensation judge had substantial evidence to support his findings, which were affirmed.