Domka v. Ruan Transportation, 022219 IDWC, IC 2014-024321

Docket Nº:IC 2014-024321
Case Date:February 22, 2019
Court:Idaho
 
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DAVID DOMKA, Claimant,
v.
RUAN TRANSPORTATION, Employer,
and
INDEMNITY INSURANCE COMPANY OF NORTH AMERICA, Surety,
and
STATE OF IDAHO, INDUSTRIAL SPECIAL INDEMNITY FUND, Defendants.
No. IC 2014-024321
Idaho Workers Compensation
Before the Industrial Commission of the State of Idaho
February 22, 2019
          FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND ORDER           Thomas P. Baskin, Chairman.          INTRODUCTION          Pursuant to Idaho Code § 72-506, the Idaho Industrial Commission assigned the above-entitled matter to Referee John C. Hummel, who conducted a hearing in Boise on May 23, 2017. Douglas W. Crandall represented Claimant, David Domka, who was present in person. Matthew O. Pappas represented Defendant Employer, Ruan Transportation, and Defendant Surety, Indemnity Insurance Company of North America. Paul J. Augustine represented the State of Idaho, Industrial Special Indemnity Fund (ISIF). The parties presented oral and documentary evidence, took post-hearing depositions, and submitted post-hearing briefs. The matter came under advisement on August 13, 2018 and was reassigned to the Commissioners on December 24, 2018.          ISSUES          The issues to be decided by the Commission as the result of the hearing are as follows:
1. Whether the industrial accident caused the condition for which Claimant seeks benefits;
2. Whether and to what extent Claimant is entitled to the following benefits:
a. Medical care; and
b. Temporary partial and/or temporary total disability benefits. All other issues are reserved.
         CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES          On September 10, 2014, Claimant was performing his customary duties as a truck driver for Employer, which consisted of transporting raw milk from farm producers to dairy production facilities in the Treasure Valley. When he stopped his truck on the highway while waiting for another vehicle to make a left-hand turn against traffic, a dump truck crashed into another dump truck behind him and both vehicles rear-ended Claimant’s vehicle. Prior to the accident, Claimant had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease which had been treated with a colectomy; he had a stoma and colostomy bag affixed to his stomach.          Claimant alleges that as a result of the industrial accident, he suffered a series of injuries, including a rupture of his stoma that required surgical repair. The surgical repair of the stoma was not without complications and Claimant required extended hospitalization for a month; he alleges that these complications were related to the injury to his stoma caused by the accident. He seeks medical benefits for the surgery, hospitalization, and ongoing care of his stoma, which he alleges has re-herniated and requires further repair, which should also be covered.          Claimant further alleges that he suffered injuries to his neck, low back, and right knee[1] that are also related to the industrial accident and for which he seeks medical benefits. Claimant also seeks temporary disability benefits covering periods of time in which he was in recovery from these conditions.          While Defendants[2] covered some initial costs of Claimant’s medical treatment following the industrial accident, they deny liability for treatment of his various conditions because they allege that they were pre-existing. They argue that Claimant’s gastrointestinal difficulties extend back to 2000. Claimant had colorectal surgery in 2011, which resulted in placement of a stoma. After that, Claimant had intermittent prolapse of his stoma. In 1999, Claimant fell on snow or ice and injured his low back. Claimant was involved in an automobile accident in 2003 in which he suffered injuries to his neck and back; he was also diagnosed with a medial meniscus tear as a consequence of the 2003 automobile accident. Claimant continued to complain of pain in all these areas in medical visits prior to the industrial accident. Claimant sustained a fall in March 2010, which injured his left elbow and back. In summary, Defendants argue that the industrial accident neither caused nor aggravated the medical conditions for which Claimant seeks coverage. For these reasons, Defendants argue that Claimant should receive neither medical benefits nor corresponding temporary disability benefits.          Employer/Surety filed a complaint against ISIF on December 14, 2016. ISIF joins Defendants in arguing that the medical conditions for which Claimant seeks covered treatment were not caused by the accident.          EVIDENCE CONSIDERED          The record in this matter consists of the following:          1. Claimant’s testimony taken at hearing and at his depositions of December 1, 2015 and March 9, 2017;          2. Claimant’s Exhibits A through K, admitted at the hearing;          3. Claimant’s Exhibit L; [3]          4. Defendants’ Joint Exhibits 1 through 35;[4] and          5. The post-hearing depositions of the following witnesses:
a. Ronald Kristensen, M.D., taken on May 26, 2017;
b. Richard Radnovich, D.O., taken on June 1, 2017;
c. Johnny B. Green, M.D., taken on June 2, 2017;
d. Samuel Jorgenson, M.D., taken on October 27, 2017;
e. Rodde Cox, M.D., taken on February 16, 2018; and
f. Lee M. Kornfield, M.D., taken on February 28, 2018.
         All objections preserved in the post-hearing depositions are overruled.          FINDINGS OF FACT          1. Claimant’s Background; Employment History. Claimant was born on February 8, 1949 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Claimant Dep. (12/1/2015), 6:21-23. He graduated from high school in Wausau, Wisconsin in 1967. Id. at 9:9-15. During high school he worked as a farmhand, a busboy, and a groundskeeper/general laborer at golf course and ski resort. Id. at 10:5-25. He had other miscellaneous jobs in his youth, including positions as a truck driver, painter, and construction worker. Id. at 18:24-19:2. After graduating high school, Claimant worked for Kraft Foods in Wausau as a shipping clerk. Id. at 11:16-23. In 1968, he enlisted in the Air Force, in which he served active duty for four years and inactive duty for two years. Id. at 12:3-14. After leaving active duty for the Air Force, Claimant returned to work for Kraft Foods in the shipping department in 1972. Id. at 14:2-9. He remained in that position for another three years. In 1975, he moved to Idaho, where he resided briefly in Boise, but settled in Meridian. Id. at 16:22-17:19.          2. After settling in Idaho, Claimant briefly worked in an electronics shop but found longer-term work in the construction industry. Id. at 17:24-18:1; 19:2. He worked for several residential and commercial construction companies performing general construction labor, painting, dry-wall fabrication, and similar tasks, but no electrical or plumbing work. Id. at 19:3-20:7. Claimant next operated a sole-proprietorship lawn and landscape business under the trade name “Dave’s Green Thumb” for approximately ten years. Id. at 20:15-21:2. After closing his lawn business, Claimant went to work as a long-haul truck driver for Willis Shaw Express in 1985. Id. at 22:14-19; 27:9. In July 2003, Claimant began working for Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) as a short haul truck driver delivering milk from dairy farm producers to dairies and cheese manufacturers. Id. at 36:14-22. After Claimant worked for DFA for approximately five years, Employer took over the contract for delivering milk for DFA in or about 2008. Claimant Dep. (3/9/2017), 17:17-19:9; Ex 30:1272.          3. Subject Employment. Employer hired Claimant effective July 1, 2008. Thereafter, Claimant continued to work for Employer in the same capacity he had worked for DFA, performing the same duties as a truck driver delivering milk from farm producers to dairies and cheese manufacturers. Id.          4. Employer’s job description for Claimant’s position stated his job title as “Driver of Semi-Tractor/Trailer.” The physical requirements of the position included the following: “work 65-70 hours per week, within federal guidelines, including nights and weekends;” “pull, twist, bend and lift 75 pounds to shoulder height in loading and unloading process;” “climb in and out of tractor and to top of trailer for inspection;” and “sit and operate a vehicle for up to 10 hours per day.” Ex 30:1279.          5. A typical workday for Claimant began at 2:00 a.m. when he arrived at Employer’s work yard to prepare his truck and tanker trailer for the day. During the workday he used a 50 foot, 20 pound power cord and also routinely used a...

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