Chief Justice Menis Ketchum
CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals last week ruled against a Greenbrier Hotel employee who claimed she injured her shoulder while on the job.
Cora A. Mariani worked at The Greenbrier, a four-star hotel located in White Sulphur Springs, when she claimed she injured her right shoulder on Nov. 28, 2008. In an occupational injury report, filed in February 2009, she claimed she fell on her family farm.
Mariani had previously filled out an injury investigation report stating she injured her shoulder on Sept. 29, 2008 while at work.
In March 2009, a claims administrator denied Mariani’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
The Workers’ Compensation Office of Judges, in a July 12, 2010 order, affirmed the administrator’s decision.
The Office of Judges concluded that Mariani’s right shoulder condition was a result of the non-occupational injury on Nov. 28, 2008.
In a final order dated Jan. 24, 2011, the state Workers’ Compensation Board of Review upheld the Office of Judges’ order.
On appeal, Mariani asserted that the evidence “clearly” establishes that she suffered an injury on Sept. 29, 2008, that she timely filed a workers’ compensation claim when she was injured in February 2009, and that it is “unclear” if the November accident aggravated the original occupational injury.
The Greenbrier argued that the Sept. 29, 2008 incident resulted in a “minor injury” for which Mariani sought no treatment, missed no work and did not file a workers’ compensation claim.
The hotel maintained that it was the Nov. 28, 2008 accident on Mariani’s family farm that actually caused the injury for which she seeks workers’ compensation benefits.
The state’s high court, in a memorandum decision filed Sept. 14, sided with the hotel.
“The Office of Judges noted several discrepancies in the record regarding the alleged injury,” the Court wrote in its two-page ruling.
“Ms. Mariani testified that on Nov. 28, 2008 she fell on her tailbone, but medical records indicate she fell on her right shoulder.
“Additionally, there is documentation completed by Ms. Mariani that she was injured in a fall on her family property, an injury not caused by her job.”
Thus, the Office of Judges and Board of Review found the claims administrator was “correct” to deny the woman’s claim for benefits, the Court concluded.
It noted that the board’s decision is “not in clear violation of any constitutional or statutory provision, nor is it clearly the result of erroneous conclusions of law.”