Case name: Garcia v. City of New Orleans, No. 2012-CA-1459 (La. Ct. App. 04/03/13).
The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that an officer was not entitled to benefits for her appendicitis.
What it means: In Louisiana, a worker's disability can be presumed to have resulted from an employment accident if before the accident she was in good health, but commencing with the accident the symptoms of the disabling condition appeared, and there was medical evidence showing a reasonable possibility of causal connection between the accident and the disabling condition.
Summary: A police officer for a city fell while going down a stairwell at the police station. Approximately 16 hours later, she went to the emergency room and was hospitalized with appendicitis. Complications required her to undergo a prolonged hospital stay. Her doctor said that adults generally require an appendectomy when there is an obstruction. The officer's medical records did not mention an obstruction. The doctor said that the officer's appendix was gangrenous because the blood supply was cut off, but he did not know what caused the blood supply to be cut off to her appendix. The officer claimed that the fall at work caused her appendicitis. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that she was not entitled to benefits.
The court noted that there was no evidence regarding the state of the officer's health before the fall. The doctor's testimony said that the probabilities of the fall causing the appendicitis and the appendicitis being idiopathic were equal. The doctor could not say that the officer's appendicitis was more probably than not caused by the fall. Therefore, the court found that the officer failed to establish causation between her fall and the appendicitis.
The doctor also said that because the more common causes of appendicitis were not present in the officer's case, the fall had to be considered "because it was the only thing that was left." The doctor testified that it was possible that the appendicitis was idiopathic and that the officer's fall was coincidental. The court found that the doctor did not perform a differential diagnosis, because he did not isolate the fall as the most probable cause of the officer's appendicitis.
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June 24, 2013
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