Orth v. ABF Freight Sys., Inc.

Orth v. ABF Freight Sys., Inc., No. WC14-5662 (June 18, 2014). 


The employee alleged to have suffered a knee injury while operating a forklift on August 23, 2013.  The employee testified that he notified his supervisor that same day of the injury.  On September 27th, the employee saw his family physician regarding several weeks of knee pain.


On October 5th, the employee injured his knee once again while walking across his employer’s premises.  About a month later, the employee underwent a partial medial meniscectomy of the right knee.  Unfortunately, the employee did not improve and was offered additional treatment options, which had the potential to lead to a total knee replacement. 


An IME was acquired by the employer, which attributed the employee’s symptoms to pre-existing, non-work-related degenerative changes.  The employee filed a Claim Petition requesting payment of medical and indemnity benefits.  The compensation judge found that the employee had provided notice to the employer and that the employee sustained a continuing work-related injury to his right knee.  The employer appealed, arguing that the compensation judge did not have sufficient facts to support the findings.


So long as a reasonable inference can be drawn from the evidence, the decision of a compensation judge will not be disturbed on appeal pursuant to Hengemuehle.  The WCCA found that the employee’s testimony was sufficient evidence, even in the absence of corroborating evidence, for the compensation judge to infer that a work injury took place and that he provided the employer with due notice.  In addition, the compensation judge was free to determine that the treating physician was more credible than the independent medical evaluator’s opinion.  Therefore, substantial evidence supported the compensation judge’s findings, which are affirmed.