Turner v. Jerry’s Enters., Inc., d/b/a Cub Foods, No. WC16-5950 (W.C.C.A. October 25, 2016)
The employer and insurer appeal the compensation judge’s determination that the employee sustained an injury to the left thumb, which arose out of and in the course and scope of his employment.
The employee held positions in numerous departments at Cub Foods. While working in the grocery department, he developed pain in his left thumb and wrist that would progressively worsen during a shift stocking shelves. In approximately 2007, 2012 and 2013 he requested transfers to different departments due to pain. In 2014 the employee spoke to his supervisor about his pain symptoms and requested another transfer. The transfer was denied and it was suggested that he wear a wrist brace. The employee did not seek medical treatment at this time.
The employee felt a pop and experienced numbness in his left thumb and wrist after having pulled the handle of a car door while attending a wedding reception. He went to urgent care, where he presented with tenderness, swelling, and a decreased range of motion. He reported having experienced left wrist and thumb pain for a while at work. He was diagnosed with a ruptured extensor pollicis longus tendon.
The court found that the employee had sustained a Gilette injury to his left thumb culminating on the date the employee pulled the handle of a car door. The court awarded his claims for temporary total disability benefits, reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses, and reimbursement claims of the intervenors.
The employer and insurer appealed, arguing that substantial evidence in the record did not support the compensation judge’s finding that the employee’s EPL tendon rupture arose out of and in the course of his employment. The employer and insurer also argued that because the rupture occurred during a personal activity, the injury was not compensable because it did not occur within the course of the employee’s employment. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals found that the judge weighed the literature along with all other medical evidence available and that her reliance on the opinions of a doctor that treated the employee was reasonable. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals also cited the judge’s reliance on the employee’s testimony regarding pain symptoms. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals found that there was substantial evidence in the record to conclude that the injury was a compensable Gilette injury and affirmed the lower court’s decision.