CP# 1998-24694 (2005). DONALD CAMPANA, Petitioner v. EVENING JOURNAL, Respondent.

Court:New Jersey
 
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New Jersey Worker's Compensation 2005. CP# 1998-24694 (2005). DONALD CAMPANA, Petitioner v. EVENING JOURNAL, Respondent CP# 98-24694 Campana v. Evening Journal Assoc.STATE OF NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT DIVISION OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION NEWARK , ESSEX COUNTY DISTRICTDONALD CAMPANA, Petitionerv.EVENING JOURNAL, Respondent.CLAIM PETITION NO. C.P. 1998-24694RESERVED DECISIONBEFORE: HONORABLE STEPHEN TUBER JUDGE OF COMPENSATIONDATE: MARCH 10, 2005This is a written decision on CP No. 1998-24694 filed by Donald Campana, which alleges total disability as a result of an acute myocardial infarction Mr. Campana experienced at work on May 16, 1998 and his prior work related accident which resulted in Mr. Campana receiving an award on March 5, 1997 of 37 1/2 percent for the residuals of a L4-L5 laminectomy and fusion, right iliac crest bone graft and right-sided radiculopathy. The petitioner testified before me on September 11 and November 13, 2003. I carefully observed his demeanor on direct examination and during a rigorous cross-examination by the Respondent. He answered all the questions that were asked of him in a forthright and honest manner and for the reasons, which I will explain at length in this opinion, I find his entire testimony to be credible. Mr. Campana's shift on May 16th was from 2:00 AM until 9:30 AM. He began his shift by breaking down full bundles into bundles for each delivery site and loading them onto his delivery truck. According to the testimony of Mr. Campana testimony which was not rebutted, whenever he worked the weekend "evening" shift because of the weight and amount of the bundles either Mr. Campana's supervisor, Mr. Handley, or a person he would assign would help him prepare the bundles for delivery. But the morning of May 16th Mr. Campana had to prepare the papers for his route alone because Mr. Handley denied his repeated requests for help. Mr. Campana testified that he thought Mr. Handley denied his requests for help because of a work-related "heated argument" they had two days prior. I quote.
"I thought that he was doing it deliberately because we had that argument. This was his way of getting back, whether or not that's true..."
Continuing, "Q. And on the night that you came in on May 16, 1998, you were feeling upset, aggravated because, at least, in you mind, you were sure that Mr. Handley was not giving you a helper that night to get back at you? A. Yes"
... Well, in my mind rehashing the same things, the words we had to each other and I you know, I couldn't understand being all the workers you can't give me one guy. I just thought that he was like punishing me like that."
There was also a dispute as to the weight of the bundles. Domingo Otero, Respondent's circulation manager testified that the business records indicated that they weighed approximately twenty pounds. Mr. Campana and John F. Zakrzewski, the petitioner's son-in-law and the individual who took over Mr. Campana's route testified that they weighed between forty and fifty pounds. As to this issue I accept the testimony of Messrs. Campana and Zakrzewski because they were the individuals that handled the bundles in question, while Mr. Otero's opinion was based solely on the accuracy of the business records that were introduced into evidence. Of course, such evidence is competent evidence. However, as to this issue I find that the testimony of Mr. Campana and Mr. Zakrzewski's compelling because it was not only honest and credible but had "the ring of truth." I cite just one example. If I told you the weight of the bundles would be a maximum of 24 pounds, would that sound accurate to you for the night of May 16, 1998. No, not at all. THE COURT: Why that is? THE WITNESS: Because I just remember getting in his truck and after working all night, I was sort of aggravated that I had to do all this work and the bundles were heavy; his were big loads. By accepting the testimony of Messrs. Campana and Zakrzewski I do not mean to imply that I found Mr. Otero's testimony less forthright. To the contrary, I found Mr. Otero to be an honest witness. But as I have said, Mr. Otero candidly admitted that he had no personal knowledge of the weight of the bundles in question, rather his opinion that the bundles weighed twenty pounds was based solely upon the accuracy of the business records, for which he as circulation manager was ultimately responsible. And mistakes, as in this particular instance, no matter how conscientious an employee are made. Of course, there are several ways the Respondent could have proved that Mr. Otero's testimony was correct. First, they could have produced someone from their accounts receivable department who could have testified that for the papers delivered on May 16th the Respondent was not paid for the inserts Mr. Campana testified to, but only for those that Mr. Otero testified about. The Respondent also could have called witnesses from one or more of the companies that Mr. Campana named as a supplier of the May 16th inserts and asked whether their company provided inserts for May 16th. For all of the foregoing reason, I find that on May 16th, Mr. Campana for the first time since being transferred to the night shift was not assigned a helper to help him prepare and load one hundred and forty-seven bundles weighing approximately forty pounds each for delivery. Based upon the unchallenged and credible testimony of Mr. Campana, I further find that not only was Mr. Campana not provided his customary helper, but his supervisor, Mr. Handley, denied his requests for a helper in retaliation for a heated work-related argument on May 14, 1998. And as a result he was required to prepare and load one hundred forty-seven, forty-pound bundles alone. I now return to the events of May 16th. After bundling and loading the bundles Mr. Campana commenced the delivery process. Although some of the one hundred and forty-seven deliveries did not require Mr. Campana to get out of the truck, three-quarters of the deliveries that night required Mr. Campana to step out of the truck, lift the door open, carry and drop the bundles an average of fifteen feet from the truck. As Mr. Campana was discharging his duties he became increasingly weak, began sweating profusely and felt sick to his stomach. These symptoms became so severe that after completing approximately one-third of his stops he called his home and spoke to his daughter and son-in-law, a police officer. Mr. Campana asked his son-in-law to help him finish his route. While driving home to pick up his son-in-law Mr. Campana's condition grew worse. He developed abdominal cramping and dry heaves. Indeed, his physical symptoms became so severe that as he was driving home he had to stop five or six times. When Mr. Campana arrived his son-in-law was waiting for him on the front steps. Upon observing Mr. Campana's condition he immediately called the Nutley Emergency Squad. Shortly thereafter the Nutley Emergency and Rescue Squad arrived and checked Mr. Campana's vital signs and gave him oxygen. He was then rushed to the Mountainside Hospital where tests revealed that his cardiac enzymes were elevated. Subsequent electrocardiograms confirmed an anterior and interior myocardial infarction. On May 21, 1998 Mr. Campana underwent a cardiac catheterization, which revealed the nature and extent of Mr. Campana's cardiac pathology: severe occlusive disease in three arteries and a thrombus in the left anterior descending artery. The cardiac catheterization results prompted Mr. Campana's doctors to transfer him to the Cardio Vascular Thoracic Surgical Center at the General Hospital Center at Passaic for cardiac by-pass surgery. On May 22, 1998 Mr. Campana underwent quadruple vessel coronary by-pass surgery. The corrective surgery was successful and Mr. Campana was discharged from the hospital on May 30th with a prescription for Lopressor, Sublingual and Nitroglycerin prn. He was also instructed to take aspirin (81mg.) daily. Mr. Campana's recovery was uneventful until his doctors recommended another cardiac catheterization and angioplasty, which were performed on July 4, 2000 at Mountainside Hospital. The repeated tests revealed that Mr. Campana's cardiac situation was stable. His medication was altered several times since his initial episode and at the present time he takes Zocar, Mentropen and Glucatrol. The first issue in this contested trial I must decide is whether the myocardial infarction of Donald Campana, "was produced by the work effort or strain involving a substantial condition, event or happening in excess of the wear and tear of the claimant's daily living and in reasonable medical probability caused in a material degree the cardiovascular injury... resulting therefrom." Hellwig v. J.F. Rast and Company, Inc., 110 N.J.37 (1988), NJ.S.A. 34:15-7.2. If one compares Mr. Campana's work effort with his ordinary life pursuits it becomes clear that his work effort far exceeded the wear and tear of his daily living. Indeed, the Respondent produced no evidence to contradict Mr. Campana's testimony that outside the work place he led what may be described as a sedentary life. Mr. Campana testified that since he was transferred to the night shift he would work, come home shower, eat, go shopping with his wife and on occasion tend to his garden and lawn. I quote:
Q Approximately when your work shift was changed from the day hours to the night shift [1996], up to the point
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