CHARLESTON – Contradictory statements made after an SDR
Plastics Inc. employee suffered a spinal injury resulted in denial of his
workers’ compensation claim.
The claim denial entered on Feb. 22, 2016, by the West
Virginia Workers’ Compensation Board of Review was affirmed on March 3 by the
State of West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
In the claim, Dallas C. Totten alleges that he suffered a
lumbosacral spine injury on Oct. 24, 2014, when he was moving a heavy product on
Totten submitted an injury report to SDR one week later, on
Oct. 31, 2014, and a doctor at Jackson General Hospital’s emergency department filed
his portion of the report on Nov. 3, 2014, confirming that Totten had a
lumbosacral sprain, but stating that the injury was related to a motor vehicle
accident Totten was involved in nearly a year before in December 2013.
Despite Totten’s claim that he was injured at work, three
other SDR employees gave differing accounts of the events that occurred on the
date that Totten was allegedly hurt.
Specifically, Totten’s shift supervisor said he assigned
Totten work for the day that did not involve a lot of physical activity because
he noticed that Totten was not looking well at the start of the shift. The
supervisor said Totten’s pain continued to get worse throughout the day, but he
claimed he could continue to work and never mentioned that the pain resulted
from a work-related injury.
Totten later left partially through his shift and, according
to the supervisor, never told him he was leaving. Totten was later fired.
In addition, SDR’s safety coordinator reported that Totten
told him that the injury he was dealing with was not work-related and was not
reported as such.
Finally, co-worker James Patterson reported that he was
working with Totten when the injury allegedly occurred. Totten said Patterson told
him he might have had kidney stones, and Patterson was not doing any type of strenuous
physical activity on the alleged date of the injury.
“The Office of Judges found that when comparing the
assertions made by Mr. Totten with those of his fellow employees, it is clear
that the record is filled with contradictory statements,” according to the appeals
court ruling, and that Totten’s claims were refuted by the other reports.
“We agree with the reasoning and conclusions of the Office
of Judges, as affirmed by the Board of Review,” the appeals court said in its