CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that a Toyota employee rightfully received the proper amount of permanent partial disability for his carpal tunnel syndrome.
Terry Smith appealed the decision of the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Board of Review according to the Feb. 23 memorandum decision.
The issue on appeal is the amount of permanent partial disability Smith is entitled to for his compensable carpal tunnel syndrome. The claims administrator granted a 6 percent permanent partial disability award on May 10, 2016.
The Office of Judges affirmed the decision in its July 18 order. The order was affirmed by the Board of Review on Sep. 29.
The Supreme Court agreed with the award of 6 percent permanent partial disability.
Smith developed carpal tunnel syndrome in the course of his employment and Dr. Marsha Bailey performed an independent medical evaluation on April 25, 2016, in which she noted that Smith presented with pain and weakness in both wrists and elbows.
An EMG/NCS performed on March 17, 2015, showed mild right carpal tunnel syndrome and moderate left carpal tunnel syndrome. Bailey noted that Smith underwent lap band surgery in 2008 and was diagnosed with type II diabetes at that time.
Bailey found that he had reached maximum medical improvement and assessed 12 percent impairment, representing 6 percent for each hand. However, Bailey found occupational and non-occupational risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome, including obesity and diabetes. She therefore apportioned 50 percent of the impairment to non-occupational factors. Her total assessment was 6 percent impairment.
The claims administrator granted Smith a 6 percent permanent partial disability award on May 10, 2016.
The Office of Judges affirmed the decision in its July 18 order. It found that the only evaluator of record to render an opinion on impairment was Bailey. She found 12 percent whole person impairment and then apportioned half to non-occupational risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome.
The Office of Judges found that Bailey’s report was reliable and credible. The Board of Review adopted the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the Office of Judges and affirmed its order in September.
“After review, we agree with the reasoning and conclusions of the Office of Judges as affirmed by the Board of Review,” the decision states. “The only evaluator of record to assess impairment was Dr. Bailey. Her report is reliable and credible and Mr. Smith was properly awarded 6% impairment based upon her report.”
The court found that the decision of the Board of Review is not in clear violation of any constitutional or statutory provision, nor is it clearly the result of erroneous conclusions of law, nor is it based upon a material misstatement or mischaracterization of the evidentiary record.
W.Va. Supreme Court of Appeals case number: 17-0892