Medical evidence doesn't support obesity as part of work injury
Totten v. Frank T. Lutter, Inc., 26 PAWCLR 90 (Pa. W.C.A.B. 2011).
Ruling: The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeals Board amended the workers' compensation judge's grant of a worker's review petition to exclude obesity as a work-related injury. In addition, the board remanded for consideration of opinions regarding an alleged back injury.
What it means: In Pennsylvania, unequivocal medical testimony is necessary to establish a causal connection between an injury and a work-related cause.
The board ruled that the WCJ erred in finding that a worker's weight gain was work-related. The worker sustained work-related vestibular concussion and radiculopathy of the left arm. He filed a review petition alleging that the description of his injury was incorrect, and he sought to add post-concussion syndrome and attendant depression, cervical sprain, and a shoulder injury. The WCJ granted the petition, adding these conditions, as well as obesity. The board amended the WCJ's decision to remove obesity as a work-related injury because the nexus between the injury and the work-related cause was not readily discernible. The worker testified that he had gained weight since the injury and attributed it to his inactivity. A reference to weight gain was made in the medical records, but there was no discussion of causation.
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July 25, 2011
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