Case name: Noel-Liszkiewicz v. La-Z-Boy, Inc., No. 12A-01-012-RRC (Del. Super. Ct. 10/03/12).
Ruling: The Delaware Superior Court held that a representative was not entitled to benefits for her pulmonary fibrosis.
What it means: In Delaware, courts are not required to find that a worker's treating physician is more credible than other experts.
Summary: A customer service representative for a furniture company was required to spend time in an area where furniture was repaired. She claimed that she noticed a chemical odor that caused coughing, dry throat, and headaches. Her symptoms worsened when the furniture repair workload increased. Her employment was eventually terminated and she complained of headaches, dry cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. She filed a claim alleging an occupational disease stemming from chemical exposure at the company's facility. The Delaware Superior Court held that she was not entitled to benefits.
Two of the representative's coworkers said that they noticed fumes in the workplace and had similar symptoms. The representative's treating physician said that she reported fatigue within six months of her termination from the company. The physician concluded that her lung disease was caused by a chemical exposure. An industrial hygienist testified that the chemical mixture could have caused her conditions. A doctor who interpreted her X-rays for workplace conditions concluded that her workplace caused her conditions. The company's doctor disagreed with the representative's experts' opinions.
The representative asserted that her treating physician's opinion should hold more weight because of his familiarity with her condition. The court said that a treating physician's testimony can be more credible than testimony by a non-treating physician, depending on the facts of a case. The court found that the Industrial Accident Board acted within its discretion in finding the company's doctor was more credible. The court pointed out that the representative did not report her symptoms or seek treatment until after her employment was terminated.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
January 7, 2013
Copyright 2013© LRP Publications