Case name: Gauthier v. Palm Beach Country Club, 17 FLWCLB 197 (Fla. JCC, West Palm Beach 2010).
Ruling: A Florida judge of compensation claims ordered the employer to authorize a medically supervised weight loss program to a worker.
What it means: In Florida, credible nonexpert testimony that a compensable work accident resulted in the worker's inactivity and weight gain, along with convincing medical opinion that weight loss is medically necessary to improve the worker's condition and aid in her recovery, constitutes sufficient support for authorizing a medically supervised weight loss program.
Summary: After hurting her knee at work, a waitress gained more than 40 pounds. She filed a petition for benefits requesting authorization for a medically supervised weight loss program. Her employer argued that the major contributing cause of her weight gain was preexisting co-morbid conditions, which were not a hindrance to the compensable treatment. The JCC found the waitress demonstrated that the medically supervised weight loss program would alleviate her pain resulting from the industrial accident and aid in her recovery. Also, the JCC found that her weight gain since the compensable accident presented a hindrance to her recovery.
Her doctors agreed that weight loss was medically necessary to improve her condition and aid in her recovery. An orthopedic knee specialist opined that the work accident tore the meniscus, the waitress had no preexisting arthritis, and the arthritis in her knee developed after the accident. He further opined that her weight was aggravating her knee condition. Also, the waitress presented testimony from family and coworkers establishing that before the accident, she was physically active and never voiced complaints regarding her knees. She would snorkel, dive, bowl, and dance. The witnesses all agreed that after the accident, she moved slowly, walked with a limp, and gained weight.
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February 17, 2011
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