Case name: Garcia v. Sedano's Supermarket, 19 FLWCLB 91 (Fla. JCC, Miami 2012).
Ruling: A Florida judge of compensation claims held that a widow failed to prove that the worker's work injuries were the major contributing cause of his fatal pancreatitis.
What it means: In Florida, conditions caused by a work-related injury that develop after the original work accident can be compensable if causation is established.
Summary: A worker sustained an injury to his left foot when he fell from a ladder at work. He died two months later due to pancreatitis. His widow contended that the worker was left without access to any narcotic pain medication seven days after he was discharged from surgery. Therefore, she had to give him over-the-counter acetaminophen at levels exceeding the maximum daily dose, which caused the pancreatitis.
The employer argued that the worker's pancreatitis was caused by his alcohol abuse. Agreeing with the employer, the JCC found the widow did not meet her burden of establishing that the work injury was the major contributing cause of the decedent's pancreatitis and resulting death.
The JCC found persuasive the testimony of the treating surgeon and the employer's forensic pathologist, who opined that gastritis caused the worker's death and that his alcoholism was too pronounced to be overcome.
The JCC pointed out that even if the worker self-medicated with excessive amounts of over-the-counter acetaminophen the widow failed to demonstrate that his death was a natural or unavoidable result of the work injury. Her actions constituted an independent indifference to the warnings and instructions for the medication. The alleged careless administration of the over-the-counter drugs by the widow was an independent intervening cause of the worker's death.
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September 6, 2012
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