Smith v. Carver County, 010419 MNWC, WC18-6180

Docket Nº:WC18-6180
Case Date:January 04, 2019
CHADD A. SMITH, Employee/Appellant,
No. WC18-6180
Minnesota Workers Compensation
Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals
January 4, 2019
         STATUTES CONSTRUED – MINN. STAT. § 176.011, SUBD. 15(D); EVIDENCE – EXPERT MEDICAL OPINION. The compensation judge erred in relying on an expert medical opinion that did not comply with the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 15(d).           Mary Beth Boyce, Meuser Law Office, P.A., Eden Prairie, Minnesota, for the Appellant.           Timothy Jung, Law Lind, Jensen, Sullivan & Peterson, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the Respondents.           Determined by: David A. Stofferahn, Judge, Gary M. Hall, Judge, Sean M. Quinn, Judge           Compensation Judge: Danny P. Kelly          Reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.           OPINION           DAVID A. STOFFERAHN, Judge          The employee filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, alleging he had developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as the result of his employment as a deputy sheriff for Carver County. The compensation judge denied the claim, concluding that the employee had not established a compensable claim for PTSD. We reverse in part, vacate in part, and remand the matter for further consideration in accord with this decision.          BACKGROUND          Chadd Smith was born on April 26, 1983. He graduated from high school and obtained an associate’s degree in law enforcement. Before going to work for Carver County, the employee had been employed as a part-time police officer for the city of Cold Spring for about two years. He was hired as a deputy sheriff for Carver County in July 2006. As part of the hiring process, the employee underwent a psychological evaluation to assess his suitability for the position of deputy sheriff. The employee was interviewed and took a number of tests, including the MMPI-2 and the California Personality Inventory. Following the psychological evaluation, the employee was recommended for employment as a deputy sheriff.          As a deputy sheriff, the employee was primarily assigned to patrol duties. He responded to various emergency and non-emergency calls, collected evidence at crime scenes, questioned witnesses and suspects, and arrested and transported suspects. Those duties exposed the employee to a number of traumatic incidents and events.          The employee claimed to have developed PTSD as a result of 16 traumatic events he encountered as a part of his employment as a deputy sheriff, occurring between August 2006 and June 2016. These events included a number of fatal motor vehicle accidents in which the employee was called upon to remove the deceased victim from the vehicle. The employee was called to an accident scene where a truck driver had been crushed by a 100,000-pound rock crusher. A young, pregnant woman was killed when the van she was driving was broadsided by an intoxicated driver. After a collision and resulting car fire, it was the employee’s responsibility to remove a victim from the car after the fire had gone out, and to assist in the autopsy. He responded to a number of motor vehicle accidents in which a victim had been ejected from the vehicle. In one of those incidents, he recalled having to step over a dying young woman so he could check on other possible victims.          The employee also responded to suicides, including two instances involving self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head. In another instance, the employee responded to a scene involving a man who had jumped head-first from a third-story window to a stone patio. The employee was also called to a scene where a two-year-old child had choked on a marshmallow and attempts to revive the child were unsuccessful. In responding to a house fire call, the employee was required to remove the body of the occupant after having been unable to gain entry to the house for several hours. On the last shift he worked for the county, the employee responded to a report of an odor. The employee investigated and discovered the decomposing body of a man who had died in his backyard where he had remained for several days.          Some of the incidents involved people the employee knew personally. Two victims in fatal auto accidents and one suicide victim had been high school classmates of his. The employee had also responded to a non-fatal motor vehicle accident in which another Carver County deputy was seriously injured. This person had been one of the employee’s training officers. Other incidents involved some connection to the employee’s personal life. The...

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