Case name: Grothaus v. Vista Health, LLC, No. CA 10-795 (Ark. Ct. App. 02/16/11).
Ruling: The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that a teacher was not entitled to benefits for his injuries.
What it means: In Arkansas, evidence that a worker did not sustain a clinical change after an alleged work-related injury shows that the worker did not sustain a compensable injury.
Summary: A teacher worked at a psychiatric facility for adolescents. The teacher had an extensive history of neck and back injuries and underwent multiple surgeries. He was teaching when one of his students began taking a metal leveler off the bottom of his desk. The teacher had knelt beside the student to tell him he could not do that when the student threw the leveler at the teacher. The teacher caught it, but the student began punching his face. He fell backward, and the student kicked him in the head. Within minutes, coworkers subdued the student, and the teacher continued working the rest of the day. The next day, the teacher sought medical treatment. The teacher sought benefits. The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that the teacher was not entitled to compensation for his injuries.
The court said that in order for the teacher's alleged aggravation of a preexisting condition to be compensable, the injury itself must be compensable. The teacher testified that his symptoms were similar before and after the incident, but his pain was more intense after the injury. A radiologist opined that there were no significant changes clinically or with MRIs of the lumbar and cervical spine after the incident. The court noted that the radiologist's report was the only report that directly compared the teacher's medical records from before and after the incident.
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April 11, 2011
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