No. 03-94582 (2005). Wright v. Housing Authority of Lawrence Cty.

Case Date:April 29, 2005
Kentucky Workers Compensation 2005. No. 03-94582 (2005). Wright v. Housing Authority of Lawrence Cty TERRY WRIGHT PETITIONER vs. HOUSING AUTHORITY OF LAWRENCE COUNTY and HON. GRANT S. ROARK, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE RESPONDENTSCommonwealth of Kentucky Workers' Compensation Board OPINION ENTERED: April 29, 2005CLAIM NO. 03-94582APPEAL FROM HON. GRANT S. ROARK, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGEAFFIRMING * * * * * * BEFORE: GARDNER, Chairman, STANLEY and YOUNG, Members. STANLEY, Member. Terry Wright ("Wright") seeks review of a decision rendered December 28, 2004, by Hon. Grant S. Roark, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), limiting her award against Housing Authority of Lawrence County ("HALC") for injuries sustained in a work-related incident on January 29, 2003. Wright argues that she is entitled to an additional period of temporary total disability ("TTD") benefits and application of the 3-multiplier to her award of permanent partial disability ("PPD") benefits related to the left shoulder injury found compensable by the ALJ. She also argues that the ALJ erred in dismissing her claim for injury to her cervical spine as non-compensable. We affirm. Wright was born December 16, 1954, and resides in Louisa, Kentucky. She has worked in a variety of positions that might be described as sedentary to light. These have included jobs as a grocery store cashier, bank teller, auto dealership warranty clerk, hotel desk clerk, data entry clerk, and bookkeeper. She was hired by HALC as a Section 8 coordinator on January 2, 2003. This was her second term of employment with the housing authority. The job involved interviewing clients, inputting information into a computer database, pulling client files to verify information, assisting with budgeting, printing checks, and similar office work. On January 29, 2003, Wright lifted her hands in the air, to shoulder level, in celebration of her mastery of a new program on the computer. One of Wright's co-workers, joining in the celebratory mood, grabbed her wrists and pulled her arms forcibly overhead. Though the co-worker did not intend to injure her, Wright experienced an immediate onset of headache that became progressively worse and was accompanied by numbness in her left arm and shoulder. She eventually began to have knotting in the trapezius muscle that caused her left shoulder to elevate, as well, producing a torticollis effect. HALC denied that Wright had sustained any permanent harmful change to the human organism arising out of the incident, and so refused to pay any voluntary TTD benefits and covered less than $500 in medical expenses. HALC attributed Wright's complaints to a pre-existing, non work-related cervical condition for which she underwent a diskectomy and fusion in October 2002. Though Wright conceded she had some persistent neck pain and headaches after that surgical procedure, she asserted that her condition had improved to the point she was able to return to work, drive, perform household chores, and engage in other activities of daily living without any significant problems prior to the work-related incident now at issue. Wright attempted to continue working after the incident at HALC, but her symptoms grew progressively worse. She sought treatment from Dr. Henry Goodman, the neurologist who had previously treated her cervical spine condition. He conducted EMG/NCV testing on February 14, 2003, which was suggestive of a chronic C5-C7 radiculopathy, with no evidence of peripheral neuropathy. A cervical MRI performed on February 16, 2003, evidenced the prior surgical fusion and asymmetric narrowing of the right C5-6 foramen, perhaps secondary to a small focal disc protrusion and/or uncovertebral joint spur. Wright was sent for evaluation by her treating neurosurgeon, Dr. Jerrel Boyer. Dr. Boyer evaluated Wright on February 18, 2003, noting that she had progressed nicely following surgery until the incident at HALC toward the end of January 2003. He documented complaints of numbness and tingling in both arms following that incident. Reviewing the MRI films, however, Dr. Boyer found no obvious abnormality causing these recurrent symptoms. Dr. Goodman followed up with Wright on February 21, 2003, and reiterated that nerve testing showed no evidence of an acute peripheral nerve injury, only the chronic changes attributed to the C5-6 radiculopathy. Because Drs. Goodman and Boyer were unable to find any treatable neurological abnormality, Wright was referred for pain management. She saw Dr. Lee Balaklaw on April 11, 2003, for trigger point injections. She underwent several rounds of these injections, but her symptoms persisted for many more months. She was off work throughout this time and experienced depression as a result of her persistent levels of pain. The various modalities administered through the pain management clinic provided her no relief. Wright filed a Form 101, application for resolution of injury claim, on December 4, 2003. She filed a motion for interlocutory relief, seeking payment of TTD benefits and pain management treatment. HALC objected to the motion, citing to the report of its evaluating physician, Dr. Michael Best, who examined Wright on March 23, 2004, and...

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