Case name: Nomac Drilling LLC v. Mowdy, No. 108677 (Okla. 05/08/12).
Ruling: The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that a floor hand was entitled to benefits for a spider bite.
What it means: In Oklahoma, a medical report is not insufficient if it makes a clear connection between the worker's injury and his employment.
Summary: A floor hand worked seven days on and seven days off at a well site. As part of his compensation, the employer provided housing in a mobile home at the well site while he was working. The floor hand had a home in another state when he was off-duty. The floor hand awoke to get ready for work and noticed two small red dots on his knee, which he thought looked like a spider bite. He reported the injury to his supervisor, but the supervisor was not concerned about the injury. Over the next few days, the floor hand's knee became swollen and infected. His supervisors were still unconcerned about the injury. When he returned home after going off-duty, he sought treatment and was diagnosed with a spider bite. Lab tests revealed a staph infection. He ultimately required surgery to remove dead and infected tissue. He sought benefits. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that he was entitled to benefits.
The floor hand introduced a doctor's report that referenced his diagnosis of a spider bite. The doctor concluded that his injury arose out of and in the course of his employment. The employer argued that the report was incompetent because the doctor did not directly diagnose the floor hand's injury as a spider bite and that the report was not curable. The court disagreed, stating that the doctor made a "clear connection" between the floor hand's injury and his employment. The report also included the worker's relevant history, including his diagnosis and treatment. The court said that the doctor's intent was to opine that a spider bite caused the floor hand's disability.
The court said that although the report did not include history that the floor hand did not see or feel a spider bite him, he did not see spiders at work, and that his wife and father also suffered staph infections, the omitted information was irrelevant to the doctor's conclusion.
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July 12, 2012
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