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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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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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