Operator's consistent complaints of pain prevent claim for aggravation of injury
Case name: Gills v. Nebraska Machine Products, Inc., No. A-12-1066 (Neb. Ct. App. 07/09/13).
Ruling: The Nebraska Court of Appeals held that an operator was not entitled to benefits for his preexisting shoulder injury.
What it means: In Nebraska, a worker's consistent complaints of pain before he worked for the employer undermine a finding that his work aggravated his preexisting condition.
A machine operator was required to move 300-pound tubs of metal parts. While attempting to lift a tub, he felt immediate, sharp pain in his shoulder. He suffered from a preexisting injury to his right shoulder. He had been recommended surgery for a torn rotator cuff before he started working for the employer, but he had not undergone surgery. Before he began working for the employer, he consistently complained of pain in his shoulder. The operator sought benefits. The Nebraska Court of Appeals held that he was not entitled to benefits.
The court found that the shoulder injury did not arise out of and in the course of his employment. There was no accident report in the operator's personnel file. His medical records indicated a history of a rotator cuff tear and degenerative joint disease. Medical notes did not mention that he was injured at work while lifting a tub.
The court also found that the operator failed to show that his work aggravated his preexisting shoulder injury. The medical records and operator's testimony showed that his symptoms were a natural progression of his preexisting injury. After his initial diagnosis until be began working for the employer, he consistently sought medical treatment for his pain. Medical notes after he began working for the employer did not mention that his work aggravated his preexisting condition.
After he was terminated by the employer, he continued to complain of pain due to increased activity such as doing yardwork. The court found there was not an intervening event that aggravated his preexisting condition. His symptoms were a natural progression of the original injury.
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September 23, 2013
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