05-12WC. Deborah Lydy v. Trustaff, Inc.
Vermont Workers Compensation 2012. 05-12WC. Deborah Lydy v. Trustaff, Inc Deborah Lydy v. Trustaff, Inc.(February 8, 2012)STATE OF VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF LABORDeborah Lydy v. Trustaff, Inc.Opinion No. 05-12WCBy: Jane Woodruff, Esq. Hearing OfficerFor: Anne M. Noonan CommissionerState File No. Z-63780OPINION AND ORDERHearing held in Montpelier, Vermont on November 8 and 14, 2011 Record closed on December 22, 2011APPEARANCES:Christopher McVeigh, Esq., for Claimant Jeffrey Dickson, Esq., for DefendantISSUES PRESENTED: 1. Did Claimant suffer a psychological injury as a result of her May 20, 2008 work-related accident? 2. Did Claimant suffer a left ankle injury as a result of her May 20, 2008 work-related accident? 3. Did Claimant suffer a left knee injury as a result of her May 20, 2008 work-related accident? 4. Should Defendant's contribution to Claimant's group health insurance premium be included in her average weekly wage and compensation rate calculation? EXHIBITS: Joint Exhibit I: Medical records Claimant's Exhibit 1: Dr. Youngjohn's MMPI-2-RF Interpretive Report (under seal) Claimant's Exhibit 2: July 22, 2010 letter detailing health insurance premium contributions Claimant's Exhibit 3: Dr. Selz's MMPI-2 Extended Score Report (under seal) CLAIM: Temporary total disability benefits to include the value of Defendant's contributions to Claimant's group health insurance premiums pursuant to 21 V.S.A. §642 Medical benefits pursuant to 21 V.S.A. §640 Costs and attorney fees pursuant to 21 V.S.A. §678 FINDINGS OF FACT: 1. At all times relevant to these proceedings, Claimant was an employee and Defendant was her employer as those terms are defined in Vermont's Workers' Compensation Act. 2. Judicial notice is taken of all relevant forms contained in the Department's file relating to this claim. Claimant's May 2008 Work-Related Accident 3. Claimant is a licensed practical nurse who worked for Defendant as a "traveler." That is, even though she lived in New Jersey with her son she agreed to a 13-week placement in a Rutland, Vermont nursing home. As part of her remuneration, Defendant provided her with local housing. 4. On May 20, 2008 Claimant reported to work for her third shift duty. As she was being briefed on the prior shift's activities, she noticed a patient's call light activate. Claimant responded to the call light and entered the patient's room. The room was dark except for a night light. 5. The patient appeared to be sleeping as Claimant approached her bed, which was low to the floor and did not have side rails. As Claimant bent down to ask the patient how she could assist her, the patient reared up, grabbed Claimant by the hair, jerked her down and started shaking her violently. For two or three minutes she shook Claimant by the hair, digging her nails into Claimant's scalp and drawing blood. The incident ended when another nurse came to Claimant's aid and disentangled her from the patient's grasp. 6. Claimant testified credibly that during the attack she felt afraid and helpless. As a medical professional, she did not consider it an option to defend herself against her patient's aggression. 7. After she collected herself, Claimant realized that both her left knee and her left foot hurt, and also that she had a burning sensation in her neck. She ended her shift early and went to the emergency room. There she was diagnosed with an acute cervical strain and a fracture of her left great toe. For her neck injury she was advised to apply ice and to wear a sling to immobilize her left arm. For her toe fracture she was instructed to wear orthotic shoes. The emergency room records do not reference any complaints of, or treatment for, left foot or knee pain. 8. Defendant accepted Claimant's neck and left toe injuries as compensable and began paying workers' compensation benefits accordingly. 9. Claimant was released to return to desk work only in three days' time. Unfortunately, Defendant had no desk duty available, and instead advised her that unless she was 100 percent recovered it would not allow her to return to work. In that event, furthermore, it would no longer pay for her housing in Vermont. Claimant could not afford this. Having no personal ties to Vermont outside of her job, she decided to move with her son to Arizona. 10. Claimant, her son and his fiance moved to Arizona almost immediately. In July 2008 she obtained employment at Desert Life Rehabilitation and Care Center, a long term care facility. Claimant worked in different capacities for Desert Life's parent company until November 2009. At that point, her treating physician disabled her from working on account of her cervical injury and Defendant commenced paying temporary total disability benefits. As of the formal hearing, Claimant had not yet returned to work. Claimant's Psychosocial History 11. Claimant suffered through a physically and emotionally abusive childhood and adolescence. She ran away when she was 14 years old and hitchhiked to the Woodstock music festival when she was 15. When she was 17, she gave birth to a child, but her mother told her it was stillborn and then secretly put it up for adoption. 12. When Claimant was 18 years old she was the victim of a brutal sexual assault. Her assailant pulled her by her hair from her car one night, dragged her to the edge of the woods and repeatedly assaulted her sexually at gunpoint. When Claimant struggled against her attacker, he subdued her by grabbing her hair and pulling her to the ground. 13. Claimant never received any type of therapeutic intervention for this horrific crime, though she did attempt to overdose shortly afterwards. Ultimately she compartmentalized the psychological effects of the assault and in her own credible words, "just moved on." 14. When Claimant was in her twenties she obtained her GED, and then became certified as a respiratory therapist. After nine years in this profession she returned to school and obtained her licensed practical nurse certificate. Claimant had three failed marriages, and was the sole bread winner for her four...
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