PS2, LLC d/b/a Boston's Gourmet Pizza v. Childers, No. 93A02-0902-EX-176 (Ind. Ct. App. 08/06/09).
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that a pizza restaurant had to pay for an employee's weight-loss surgery. The surgery was required so that doctors could treat the employee's work-related injury.
What it means: In Indiana, an employer may be required to pay for secondary medical treatment if it is necessary in order to treat the employee's work-related injury.
A 25-year-old cook at a pizza restaurant was injured when a freezer door hit him in the back while he was working. At the time of the incident, the cook was 6 feet tall, weighed 340 pounds, and smoked around 30 cigarettes a day. After the accident, his back pain increased, and he underwent a number of treatments and examinations, all of which failed to help his pain. He was determined to be a candidate for spinal fusion surgery. However, by that time his weight had increased to 380 pounds. Doctors indicated his weight could cause the fusion to be unsuccessful. The employer agreed to pay for the back surgery but argued it was not obligated to pay for a weight-loss operation because he was obese before the accident. The Court of Appeals determined that the cook's weight and the accident had combined to create a single injury. The court noted that the employer did not present evidence that the cook's weight was a medical problem before the accident. In contrast, after the accident, the cook's weight and injury made him almost immobile. The court determined that the employer must pay for both surgeries.
The court noted that several other states -- including California, Oregon, Florida, Ohio and South Dakota -- have ordered employers to pay for weight-loss treatments.
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October 8, 2009
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