The Employee was a program coordinator for a group home by the Employer, Divine House, Inc. The Employee suffered from osteoarthritis in the left knee on an ongoing basis prior to the injury and was seen by a CPRN 15 days before the injury in which it was noted that the Employee had swelling and tenderness of the left knee. On the date of injury, February 23, 2017, the Employee was helping a client carry groceries into the group home. The Employee picked up three gallons of milk and turned towards the building. She began walking toward the building and experienced a loud popping noise in her left knee as well as severe left knee pain. The Employee was eventually diagnosed with a medial meniscus tear and underwent a partial medial meniscectomy and minimal chondroplasty.
At hearing, the compensation judge found that the Employee did not suffer a compensable work injury to her knew because the Employee was not exposed to a condition that put her at an increased risk of injury.
The issue before the W.C.C.A. was whether the Employee’s injury arose out of and in the course of employment. The court found that the circumstances of the injury met the “in the course of” component but that the injury must also arise out of the employment, meaning that the Employee must show a causal connection between the work activity and the injury.
Based upon the record, the W.C.C.A. found that the injury occurred when the Employee was engaged in “normal walking” as she testified at hearing that the pain started when she took a step forward and there was no twisting involved. Further, the Employee did not claim that there was anything amiss with the surface that she was walking on when the injury occurred.
To support her claim that the compensation judge erred, the Employee cited to Papesh v. Kandersteg, Inc., No. WC10-5109 (W.C.C.A. Nov. 1, 2010). The court rejected this argument stating that the, in that case, the injury occurred by a twisting motion that was required as part of the Employee’s job duties, citing also a more recent case of James v. Duluth Clinic, No. WC18-6128 (W.C.C.A. Aug. 21, 2018). In this case, the Employee was “striding normally” after completing her turn when the injury occurred. The court further held, citing Dykhoff, simply walking without some increased risk does not meet the Employee’s burden to demonstrate a causal connection between the employment and the injury. As a result, the W.C.C.A held that there was no increased risk attributable to the Employee’s work duties that cause her knee problem and as such the Employee did not meet the burden to prove that the injury arose out of her employment with Employer and the findings of the compensation judge were affirmed.