In re Compensation of Slater, 082819 ORWC, 12-03369

Case DateAugust 28, 2019
71 Van Natta 962 (2019)
In the Matter of the Compensation of DANIEL B. SLATER, Claimant
WCB Nos. 12-03369, 12-00682
Oregon Worker Compensation
August 28, 2019
          Julene M Quinn LLC, Claimant Attorneys           SAIF Legal Salem, Defense Attorneys           Reviewing Panel: Members Woodford, Lanning, and Wold.1           ORDER ON REMAND          This matter is before the Board on remand from the Court of Appeals. Slater v. SAIF, 287 Or.App. 84 (2017). The court has reversed that portion of the Board’s order, Daniel B. Slater, 66 Van Natta, that upheld the SAIF Corporation’s denial of claimant’s medical services claim for a left knee MRI. The Board had found that, because SAIF had proven that claimant had a combined condition, compensability of the disputed medical services was necessarily governed by the major contributing cause standard. Analyzing ORS 656.245(1)(a), the court determined that the Board did not analyze whether the disputed medical service was “directed to” the combined condition or to another condition caused in material part by the accepted conditions. Consequently, the court has remanded.          FINDINGS OF FACT          We adopt the “Findings of Fact” from our prior order with the following summary and supplementation.          Following claimant’s October 2005 work injury, SAIF accepted a left knee medial collateral ligament strain and a left medial meniscus tear. (Exs. 14, 21). Dr. Di Paola performed surgery and diagnosed a work-related medial meniscus tear, and nonwork-related chondromalacia of the patellofemoral joint and medial compartment. (Exs. 16, 19).          On June 26, 2006, a Notice of Closure awarded 2 percent whole person permanent impairment. (Ex. 21).          [71 Van Natta 963] Thereafter, claimant returned to Dr. Di Paola with recurring left knee symptoms. (Exs. 23, 24, 26). In June 2011, Dr. Di Paola recommended an imaging study to “identify and stage any arthritic component that may be contributing to [claimant’s] symptoms.” (Ex. 29). X-rays showed significant medial compartment degenerative changes. (Ex. 30).          After reviewing the x-rays, Dr. Di Paola explained that there had been an “objective material worsening of [claimant’s] preexisting degenerative arthritis that is not attributable to his interval meniscal tears and their surgical treatment.” (Ex. 34). Rather, he described claimant as having “relentlessly progressive degeneration of end-stage osteoarthritis.” (Id.) He further stated that it did not seem likely that a causal relationship between claimant’s current knee condition and his work activities would be “demonstrable.” (Id.)          In October 2011, claimant filed a new/omitted medical condition claim for “prominent medial compartment degenerative changes-left knee.” (Ex. 35).          On December 8, 2011, SAIF modified its acceptance to include a “combined condition as of October 27, 2005 consisting of left medial collateral ligament strain and left medial meniscus tear combined with preexisting left knee osteoarthritis.” (Ex. 36).          On February 2, 2012, Dr. Di Paola opined that claimant’s “work injury” ceased to be the major contributing cause of claimant’s need for treatment for the combined condition as of December 21, 2007. (Ex. 38-2). Based on objective findings from his examination, he attributed claimant’s need for medical treatment on and after December 21, 2007, to claimant’s preexisting degenerative arthritis. (Id.)          On February 3, 2012, SAIF denied the combined condition on the basis that, as of July 22, 2011, the accepted injury was no longer the major contributing cause of the combined left knee condition. (Ex. 39). Claimant requested a hearing.          On February 21, 2012, Dr. Di Paola opined that claimant had objective findings of impairment on physical examination, including restricted range of motion, mild laxity, and varus angulation of the legs “all attributable to degenerative arthritic changes of the knee as it relates to the injury of October 27, 2005.” (Ex. 40-2). He further noted that 100 percent of the impairment was due to the work injury, and zero percent was due to the preexisting condition. (Id.) Dr. Di Paola stated that there were “no combined conditions” affecting claimant’s objective or subjective function. (Ex. 40-3).          [71 Van Natta 964] On February 29, 2012, claimant was evaluated by Dr. Koon, who recommended a left knee MRI to make sure claimant’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was “intact” and that there had not been a new injury...

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