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COA: physical condition, injury equal one injury

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The Indiana Court of Appeals isn't convinced it needs to address the issue of pre-existing, non-work related physical conditions as it relates to a pizzeria cook's worker compensation case.

A ruling today in PS2, LLC, d/b/a Boston's Gourmet Pizza v. Adam Childers, No. 93A02-0902-EX-176, affirmed an order from the Indiana Worker's Compensation Board. A single administrative member last year had determined the injured cook was entitled to a secondary medical treatment relating to his injury and continued payment of temporary total disability benefits. On review, the full board in February affirmed that decision.

Childers was struck in the back by a freezer door in March 2007 and sustained an injury to his lower back. The record states that at the time of the accident, the 25-year-old was 6 feet tall, weighed 340 pounds, and smoked about 30 cigarettes a day. His treatment at first included medication and then physical therapy, but the latter was stopped because of worsening pain. A doctor recommended he lose weight in order to continue the treatment. However, Childers gained weight and surgery was explored as an option.

But the employer disagreed that it should have to pay for weight-reduction treatment and argued against the finding that Childers' pre-existing physical condition and inability to lose weight combined with a workplace injury produced a "single injury."

On appeal, Boston cited the state's Apportionment Statute at Indiana Code Section 22-3-3-12 that attempts to separate those workplace injuries from pre-existing impairments or disabilities that may or may not be related. Boston argues that the statute shows it would go against Indiana's public policy to hold an employer responsible for any medical condition resulting from another employment or cause. It recommended the Indiana Court of Appeals consider decisions from other jurisdictions - Louisiana, Florida, Wyoming, California, Oregon, Ohio, and South Dakota - that had considered the issue.

But the appellate judges found that Boston didn't show evidence that Childers had a weight problem impairing his health or requiring medical intervention prior to the workplace injury. After his injury, though, he was nearly immobile and that caused his weight to rise, the court wrote.

"We find Indiana law and the reasoning of the cases relied upon by the Board sufficient to our task, and to sustain the Board's award," Judge Carr Darden wrote for the unanimous panel.

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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