Larson v. ISD 465

Larson v. ISD 465, No. WC18-6132 (W.C.C.A. July 18, 2018).

The Employee was a paraprofessional working for the school district who claimed to have developed a Gillette injury involving pain and numbness in her upper extremities.  The Employee alleged to have been exposed to injury by repetitively lifting and manipulating a severely physically disabled child, piano playing for the district, as well as being grabbed by a child on her arm and wrist on two occasions in 2015.

The Employee’s physician wrote a report alleging that work activities as a paraprofessional and piano player were substantial contributing factors to diagnose carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel condition, which ultimately required surgery on the left side.  The Employer and Insurer acquired an IME from Dr. Simonet who opined that the Employee had no objective findings and could not be diagnosed with carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel conditions.  He opined that the Employee had non-specific bilateral upper extremity pain that was unrelated to any work activities.

The Compensation Judge adopted Dr. Simonet’s report as more persuasive.  As part of his findings, the Compensation Judge adopted the Employer and Insurer’s approach of calculating the percentage of numbers of hours per week the Employee was engaged in a particular activity to show that it was insufficient to lead to a Gillette injury.  The Employee appeals the use of any mathematical calculation to defeat a Gillette injury.

The W.C.C.A. affirmed the Compensation Judge’s denial of the claim, but note that “a precise mathematical equation or specific number of hours an employee must perform an activity for that activity to be deemed repetitive under a Gillette analysis is problematic and impractical.”  However, it was within the Compensation Judge’s authority to rely upon Dr. Simonet’s opinion and, considering the record as a whole, there was substantial evidence to support the Compensation Judge’s denial.