Carfi v. Brand Energy Services, LLC, 012121 IAWC, 5065315

Docket Nº5065315
Case DateJanuary 21, 2021
ILLINOIS NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY,, insurance Carrier, Defendants.
No. 5065315
Iowa Workers Compensation
Before the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner
January 21, 2021
         Head Note Nos.: 1402.30, 1402.40, 1802, 1803, 2501, 2502, 2801, 2907, 4000, 5-9999          APPEAL DECISION           JAMES F. CHRISTENSON DEPUTY WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSIONER          STATEMENT OF THE CASE          Claimant, Matthew Carfi, appealed from an arbitration decision filed on July 19, 2019 and from a rehearing decision regarding demeanor filed on August 7, 2020.          This case was initially heard by Deputy Workers' Compensation Commissioner Erica Fitch on May 15, 2018. Deputy Fitch was taken off her regular deputy work, including hearings, to work full time in the development and the implementation of the paperless Workers' Compensation Electronic System (WCES). Due to Deputy Fitch's unavailability, this case was delegated to Deputy Workers' Compensation Commissioner Stephanie Copley on July 9, 2019. Deputy Copley issued the arbitration decision on July 19, 2019. She issued a rehearing decision regarding demeanor on August 7, 2020.          The detailed arguments of the parties have been considered and the record of the evidence has been reviewed de novo. Upon written delegation of authority by the Workers' Compensation Commissioner under Iowa Code section 86.3,1 render this decision as a final agency decision on the behalf of the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commission.          ISSUES          Should claimant have his case reheard?          Did claimant carry his burden of proof he sustained an injury on October 25, 2016 that arose out of and in the course of employment?          Did claimant carry his burden of proof he is entitled to temporary disability benefits?          Did claimant carry his burden of proof he is entitled to permanent partial disability benefits?          Did claimant carry his burden of proof there was a causal connection between the alleged injury and the claimed medical expenses?          Did claimant carry his burden of proof that defendants are liable for penalty under Iowa Code section 86.13?          FINDINGS OF FACT          Claimant was 42 years old at the time of hearing. Claimant graduated from high school. Claimant attended some college. (Transcript pages 6-7) Claimant has worked mostly as an industrial painter. (Tr. p. 7)          Claimant worked for Brand Energy Services, LLC (Brand), as an industrial painter from November 16, 2015 through January 13, 2016; March 7, 2016 through May 20, 2016; and from June 17, 2016 through October 25, 2016. (Exhibit E, p. 5)          Claimant's job duties were generally to support ironworkers and pipefitters. The physical demands of claimant's job are found at Exhibit C. They include applying and removing painting materials as part of a crew, loading and unloading paint materials and carrying paint buckets. The job is classified as a medium physical demand level position and requires handling loads between 25 to 45 pounds. (Ex. C)          Claimant described the job as physically demanding and involved climbing, bending, stooping, and using grinders and hand sanders. (Tr. p. 16) Claimant testified he was required to wear a harness as much of the painting was done off ground level. Claimant also had to carry a bucket of tools. Claimant testified the bucket of tools weighed approximately 10 to 15 pounds. (Tr. pp. 13, 57)          Claimant testified he began having difficulty walking during his shift on July 19, 2016. He said two of his foreman saw him limping. Claimant said they asked him about the limp. Claimant said he told them "I don't know what is going on. I just know it started hurting really bad." (Tr. pp. 26, 30) Claimant was instructed to go to the emergency room. (Tr. p. 26)          On July 19, 2016, claimant was seen at Fort Madison Community Hospital Emergency Room with complaints of left leg pain. He indicated the pain began a month prior. Claimant was assessed as having a hamstring strain. He was treated with medications. (JE 1, pp. 1-3)          Claimant testified he returned to work the next day. He said his pain worsened to the point his employer would not allow him to return until he had gotten a doctor's release. (Tr. pp. 26-27)          Claimant said he went to see a chiropractor to get a work release. On August 3, 2016, claimant was evaluated at Wondra Chiropractic for a chronic left thigh complaint of unknown origin since June 30, 2016. Claimant was assessed as having lumbago with sciatica on the right side. (JE2, pp. 7-9) Claimant testified he obtained a work release from the chiropractor. (Tr. p. 32)          Claimant testified another foreman told him to see another doctor for a work release. (Tr. p. 33) On August 9, 2016, claimant was evaluated by Jeffrey Juhl, D.O. Claimant reported left leg pain for one month. Claimant indicated he woke up with leg pain one day. (JE3, p. 13) Claimant indicated that one year prior, he fell 16 feet from a steel infrastructure onto a car. Claimant said he did not have a long-term injury from this fall. Claimant was given an epidural steroid injection (ESI) on August 9, 2016 and August 29, 2016 by Dr. Juhl. (JE3, pp. 13, 18)          Claimant returned to work and continued to work for Brand. He testified that on October 25, 2016, he had a sudden increase in pain and was unable to walk to a break room. Claimant said he was terminated on October 25, 2016. (Tr. p. 36)          On November 3, 2016, claimant was evaluated at Great River Orthopedic Specialists. Claimant indicated back pain in January that went into the left lower extremity. An MRI was recommended. (JE5, pp. 23-25) Claimant underwent an MRI that showed degenerative joint and disc disease of the lumbosacral spine. (JE5, p. 26)          On December 2, 2016, claimant was evaluated by Robert Foster, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon. Claimant had ongoing left leg and back pain for several months. Surgery was discussed and chosen as a treatment option. (JE5, p. 27)          On December 26, 2016, claimant had a lumbar laminectomy at the L5-S1 levels. Surgery was performed by Dr. Foster...

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