Case name: Lubrizol Advanced Materials, Inc. v. Hendricks, No. 2012-CA-001729-WC (Ky. Ct. App. 07/26/13, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that a worker was entitled to benefits for her pulmonary condition.
What it means: In Kentucky, evidence that a worker's symptoms worsened at work and subsided when she was away from work can support a finding of causation.
Summary: A worker for a manufacturer claimed that she suffered from hypersensitivity pneumonitis as a result of her exposure to PVC resins and compounds in the workplace. She first sought treatment for shortness of breath and dizziness and was ultimately diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Her doctor first noted that a possible cause was her exposure to animals while working and hunting on her farm. The worker reported worsened symptoms when she returned to work and the doctor began to think that the symptoms were connected to her work environment. A pulmonologist concluded that the worker's symptoms strongly correlated to her time at work and determined within a degree of reasonable probability that her condition was causally related to her work. Tests of common antigens known to cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis revealed negative results. The Kentucky Court of Appeals held that the worker was entitled to benefits.
The court found that the worker's doctor and pulmonologist provided expert medical opinions that her condition was causally related to her exposure to antigens while working. Her symptoms worsened upon returning to work and subsided when she was off work. The court found that the doctors' conclusions did not amount to "merely a temporal relationship" between the worker's symptoms and her work environment.
The manufacturer asserted that the worker's exposure to animals may have caused her symptoms. However, the pulmonologist noted that tests measuring the worker's reaction to natural antigens known to cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis were negative. The court pointed out that the manufacturer did not present any conflicting objective medical evidence to prove that the worker's symptoms were caused by her exposure to other antigens.
The court found that the worker was entitled to permanent partial disability benefits beginning on the date when she first sought treatment. Her PPD benefits were suspended during intervening periods when she would receive temporary total disability benefits.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
September 23, 2013
Copyright 2013© LRP Publications