IN THE MATTER OF THE CLAIM OF: SHAWN BRYANT, Claimant,
MESA COUNTY VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT #51, Self-Insured Employer, Respondent.
W.C. No. 5-102-109-001
Colorado Workers Compensation
Industrial Claim Appeals Office
March 18, 2020
KILLIAN DAVIS RICHTER & MAYLE PC, Attn: DREW R KRANIAK
ESQ, C/O: CHRISOPHER H RICHTER ESQ, (For Claimant).
RUEGSEGGER SIMONS & STERN LLC, Attn: CAROL A FINLEY ESQ,
respondent seeks review of an order of Administrative Law
Judge Mottram (ALJ) dated November 18, 2019, that determined
claimant sustained a compensable injury and awarded temporary
partial disability benefits. We affirm.
claimant is employed as a third grade teacher for the
employer. On January 28, 2019, claimant arrived at work at
7:45 a.m. After performing some duties involving preparation
for the upcoming school day, claimant was walking down a
hallway in the school and as he came around a corner, he
nearly collided with a co-worker.
startled movements associated with avoiding the near
collision, the claimant’s leg “stuck” and
he felt a “pop” in his left knee with an
immediate onset of searing pain The other person involved in
the near collision, Ms. Bailey, testified and confirmed that
the incident occurred. She further testified that claimant
stopped suddenly [to avoid contact] and thereafter needed to
put his hand on her shoulder for support as he was in obvious
injury was immediately reported to the school principal and
in turn to the third party administrator. Claimant was
referred for medical treatment with either Dr. McLaughlin or
Dr. Stagg. Claimant was initially evaluated by Dr. McLaughlin
on March 8, 2019 Dr. McLaughlin noted that claimant had a
prior work-related injury in February 2014. X-rays taken in
2014 revealed a knee effusion and degenerative disease of the
patellofemoral joint. Dr. McLaughlin diagnosed a left knee
strain consistent with his reported work injury with known
pre-existing degenerative joint disease. A recommended MRI
was initially denied by respondent.
testified that after his 2014 work-related knee injury, he
received physical therapy (PT), and by the end of 2014 did
not have significant symptoms in his left knee. He was placed
at maximum medical improvement and provided with a permanent
impairment rating. He testified that his knee would continue
to hurt on occasion and he would treat it with
this injury, claimant underwent an initial course of PT with
Mr. Richardson beginning March 27, 2019. Mr. Richardson noted
that claimant felt like his knee would buckle during the PT.
Mr. Richardson noted that claimant’s findings were
consistent with medial meniscus tear/internal derangement of
the left knee.
returned to Dr. McLaughlin on April 2, 2019, with continued
swelling, soreness, and pain with standing. Dr. McLaughlin
renewed his recommendation for an MRI despite the
respondent’s denial. An MRI was performed on June 28,
2019 and demonstrated a complex medial meniscus tear and
tricompartmental arthrosis. Moderate joint effusion with a
small Baker cyst was also noted.
McLaughlin opined that the meniscus injury was either caused
by, or exacerbated by the acute stopping at the time of the
near collision at work. Dr. McLaughlin recommended that
claimant see an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible.
commissioned an independent medical examination (IME) with
Dr. Failinger, an orthopedic surgeon on July 25, 2019. The
doctor noted that claimant continued to complain of pain and
swelling in the knee. He opined that claimant had significant
degenerative joint disease with significant symptoms in the
left knee. He opined that the MRI findings were primarily
degenerative in nature. Dr. Failinger felt that
claimant’s work injury caused an exacerbation of a
pre-existing disease, but opined it was not medically
probable that it caused a permanent acceleration of the left
knee condition. He concluded that the incident did not cause
new pathology in his left knee, as claimant did not
experience a significant fall or a major force that impacted
Failinger testified that his use of the term
“exacerbation” does not mean that the underlying
pathology changed at all. He opined that the incident on
January 28, 2019, would not have caused symptoms in a healthy
considered the claimant’s preexisting knee condition
and credited claimant’s testimony that the symptoms in...