The employer and insurer appeal from the compensation judge’s finding that the employee sustained an injury to his bilateral shoulders and neck substantially resulting from his work for the employer, from the awards of temporary total and temporary partial disability for certain periods, and from the orders requiring them to contribute to or pay for various medical treatment and vocational rehabilitation.
The employee worked for Lano Equipment (“Lano”) from 1999 to 2004 as a mechanic. In 2002, he sustained an admitted injury to the neck, right shoulder and thoracic spine while he was attempting to loosen a large bolt using a wrench with a pipe attached for extra leverage. In 2003, he was diagnosed with impingement syndrome and degenerative disc disease. A right shoulder arthroscopy with subacromial decompression was performed. An MRI after surgery showed moderate supraspinatus and subscapularis tendiopathies with small areas of partial-thickness tearing.
From 2005 to 2013 the employee worked for Sylva Corp., Inc., (“Sylva”), performing service work on a variety of equipment and performing mechanical service work in the plant building. He was also trained as a welder and fabricator.
In 2007, the employee sustained an admitted injury to his left shoulder. He was diagnosed with a left shoulder rotator cuff strain with tendinopathy and provided an epidural injection into the subacromial area of his left shoulder. He continued working for several months without restriction. In December 2007, he underwent an arthroscopic debridement with anterior acromioplasty. In 2012, the employee returned to the doctor complaining of right arm and shoulder pain. He also said that he noticed shoulder pain at this time.
The compensation judge found that the employee had sustained a Gilette injury to his bilateral shoulders and neck, that he was temporarily totally disabled for certain periods of time, apportioned 50 percent of the liability to the work injury with Lano and 25 percent to each of two injuries while employed by Sylva. Liability for temporary partial disability compensation was ordered entirely against Sylva, as the dates claimed exceeded Lano’s liability under the relevant statutes. The compensation judge apportioned liability for medical treatment to the right shoulder and neck at 75 percent to the injury sustained while the employee worked at Lano and 25 percent to the injuries sustained while the employee worked at Sylva. Liability for medical treatment to the left shoulder was attributed to the injuries sustained while the employee worked at Sylva. A thoracic surgery recommended was found reasonable and necessary and was apportioned at 100 percent to the injury sustained while the employee worked at Lano.
Sylva and its insurer appealed, arguing that the compensation judge’s finding of a Gilette injury lacked substantial evidentiary support in the record. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (“WCCA”) stated that the compensation judge should consider the nature and extent of the employee’s work duties in determining legal causation. Additionally, the WCCA stated that under Steffen v. Target Stores, compensation judge should also consider the medical evidence. Steffen v. Target Stores, 517 N.W.2d 579, 581, 50 W.C.D. 464, 467 (Minn. 1994). In this case, the compensation judge relied on employee testimony and several medical opinions when making its determination. The WCCA did not find inconsistencies between the medical records and the employee’s testimony significant enough to warrant overturning the judge’s finding that the employee was credible, and concluded that the judge did not err in failing to adopt the appellants’ preferred weight for and interpretation of certain doctors’ records. Substantial evidence supported the compensation judge’s finding that the employee sustained a Gilette injury to his neck and bilateral shoulders.