In re Claim of Jacobs, 112219 COWC, 5-094-248-001

Docket Nº:W.C. 5-094-248-001
Case Date:November 22, 2019
Court:Colorado
 
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IN THE MATTER OF THE CLAIM OF: STEPHANIE JACOBS, Claimant,
v.
THE GEO GROUP, Employer,
and
NEW HAMPSHIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Insurer, Respondents.
W.C. No. 5-094-248-001
Colorado Workers Compensation
Industrial Claim Appeals Office
November 22, 2019
          MCDIVITT LAW FIRM PC, Attn: AARON S KENNEDY ESQ, (For Claimant)           POLLART MILLER LLC, Attn: ERIC J POLLART ESQ, (For Respondents)           FINAL ORDER          The respondents seek review of an order of Administrative Law Judge Edie (ALJ) dated July 11, 2019, that ordered the claimant’s low back injury compensable, awarded temporary disability benefits and found the respondents liable for emergency and follow up medical treatment the claimant received in November and December, 2018. We affirm the decision of the ALJ.          The claimant became employed by the respondent employer in November, 2018. The claimant was hired to provide youth counseling services at the Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center in Canon City. On November 29, 2018, the claimant was involved in the third day of orientation training. That morning the training class engaged in safe takedown and restraint maneuvers that could become necessary in a physical intervention with a client. During the noon lunch break the claimant noticed her legs became somewhat wobbly. The training class then participated in a two hour presentation while seated. When a break was scheduled, the claimant found she was unable to stand or to bear any weight on her legs. With assistance she stood but then immediately fell and struck her head on a wall.          An ambulance transported the claimant to the St. Thomas More Hospital emergency room. The claimant gave the emergency room staff an account of the cause of her distress that included a description of the take down techniques performed in the training class that morning. An MRI of her low back taken during the emergency room visit revealed a “central disc herniation which appears acute. This is severe.” In addition to this L3-4 herniation, the MRI also documented a right sided likely chronic disc herniation at L1-2. A need for back surgery was anticipated. The claimant was administered steroids and muscle relaxants. That evening the claimant was evaluated by a neurosurgeon. He noted the claimant complained of primarily leg weakness. The weakness was slowly dissipating and the claimant was released the next day able to walk under her own power. The claimant was prescribed physical therapy, pain management and, if necessary, surgical evaluation. The claimant followed up at Button Family Medicine on December 3 and 10. The claimant continued to complain of back pain. Physical therapy and a repeat MRI were recommended. The claimant was advised to observe physical restrictions of lifting no more than 10 pounds and no twisting or bending at the waist. The claim was denied by the respondents which prevented the claimant from receiving any further treatment. The employer required the claimant provide a full duty return to work release before she could be reemployed.          The respondents had the claimant evaluated by Dr. Burris. The doctor concluded the claimant’s back injury was not work related. He noted the claimant’s progression of symptoms was not characteristic of an acute spine herniation. Dr. Burris felt the training activities of November 29 did not indicate movements capable of causing the herniated disc. The claimant’s absence of back pain, as opposed to leg malfunction, was also said to be inconsistent with an acute injury. He observed the leg weakness resolved within a period of hours following its onset. The doctor testified in a deposition that while the claimant’s activities on November 29 could potentially cause the disc injury, he believed it more likely the claimant suffered from meralgia paresthetica, which is a non-occupational condition. Dr. Burris did not see any medical record showing a back injury or treatment...

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