Similar symptoms before and after alleged injury erase compensability
Mooney v. AT&T, No. CA10-51 (Ark. Ct. App. 09/15/10).
Ruling: The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that a worker was not entitled to compensation for his back injury.
What it means: In Arkansas, a worker must provide medical evidence supported by objective findings establishing his injury. A finding of muscle spasms can satisfy this requirement, but not if the worker had experienced spasms for years before the work injury.
Summary: A supply attendant had a history of back problems. His job required him to load various items onto a truck and deliver them. There was confusion among the parties about when the injury occurred. The attendant called his supervisor and claimed that he injured his back. The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that the attendant was not entitled to compensation because he did not produce medical evidence that he suffered either a specific incident or gradual onset injury or that his injury arose out of and in the course of his employment.
The attendant argued that he met the requirement to provide medical evidence supported by objective findings to establish his injury. He suffered muscle spasms after his alleged work injury. However, the court noted that the attendant had experienced muscle spasms for years before the injury. Additionally, the attendant had experienced radicular pain in his lower back and lower extremities before his employment. The court found that the attendant's MRIs did not satisfy the requirement because there was no significant change after the injury. The doctor's testimony about decreased range of motion did not satisfy the requirement because the doctor did not indicate whether he conducted an active or passive range of motion test.
The court noted that the administrative law judge gave little weight to the doctor's testimony because of a lack of medical records, similarities between his symptoms before and after he began work and the doctor's finding that the attendant was disabled and unable to perform his previous job.
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December 9, 2010
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