Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Compensation of Minor

Court of Appeals of Oregon

February 28, 2018

In the Matter of the Compensation of Sheila L. Minor, Claimant.
v.
SAIF CORPORATION and Coos County, Respondents. Sheila L. MINOR, Petitioner,

          Argued and submitted October 11, 2016

         Workers' Compensation Board 1401736;

         Dale C. Johnson argued the cause and fled the brief for petitioner.

         Beth Cupani argued the cause and fled the brief for respondents.

          Before DeHoog, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Aoyagi, Judge.[*]

         Case Summary:

         Claimant seeks judicial review of an order of the Workers' Compensation Board that upheld the denial of her occupational disease claim for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The board rejected the opinion of claimant's psychologist as unreliable and therefore found that claimant had failed to prove that her cognizable employment conditions were the major contributing cause of her PTSD. Claimant argues that the board's order is not supported by substantial evidence or substantial reason. Held: The board's order is not supported by substantial reason. The board did not provide a rational explanation for finding the psychologist's opinion unreliable on the ground that the opinion was “lacking in explanation and analysis, ” had been based on an inaccurate history, or had failed to account for noncognizable causative factors.

          [290 Or. 538] DEHOOG, P. J.

         Claimant, a 9-1-1 dispatcher, seeks judicial review of an order of the Workers' Compensation Board that upheld the denial of her occupational disease claim for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The board found that claimant had failed to prove that her cognizable employment conditions were the major contributing cause of her PTSD. Claimant argues that the board had no grounds on which to reject the opinion of claimant's psychiatrist and that, as a result, the board's order is not supported by substantial evidence or substantial reason. We conclude that the board's order lacks substantial reason to support its finding that the psychiatrist's opinion was unreliable and, accordingly, reverse and remand.

         The applicable law is not in dispute. A claimant bears the burden of proving that an injury or occupational disease is compensable. ORS 656.266(1). Specific to occupational disease claims, the claimant "must prove that employment conditions were the major contributing cause of the disease." ORS 656.802(2)(a). Mental disorder claims are subject to additional requirements:

"(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a mental disorder is not compensable under this chapter unless the worker establishes all of the following:
"(a) The employment conditions producing the mental disorder exist in a real and objective sense.
"(b) The employment conditions producing the mental disorder are conditions other than conditions generally inherent in every working situation or reasonable disciplinary, corrective or job performance evaluation actions by the employer, or cessation of employment or employment decisions attendant upon ordinary business or financial cycles.
"(c) There is a diagnosis of a mental or emotional disorder which is generally recognized in the medical or psychological community.
"(d) There is clear and convincing evidence that the mental disorder arose out of and in the course of employment."

ORS 656.802(3).

         [290 Or. 539] We take the following historical and procedural facts from the board's order and underlying record. Coos County (employer) employed claimant for 28 years as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. In 1996, claimant filed a workers' compensation claim for anxiety and depression that she attributed to an incident in which she had dispatched officers and a suspect had been shot. Claimant and employer's insurer resolved that claim through a disputed claim settlement (DCS). Then, in 2009, claimant sought treatment for depression and told her doctor that she was "under a lot of stress at work." Finally, in December 2012, claimant began seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Reagan, who subsequently diagnosed claimant with PTSD and other emotional disorders. According to Reagan's intake notes, claimant reported that she was experiencing a number of mental and physical symptoms, many of which had begun after the 1996 shooting. Claimant also reported feeling "singled out" by her supervisor, and Reagan's subsequent chart notes indicated that claimant continued to complain of "work stress, " along with various specific symptoms. Reagan's chart notes from January 2013 specifically noted that claimant had reported two sources of nonwork stress: caring for her terminally ill husband and financial difficulties.

         In January 2014, claimant received a letter of reprimand from her supervisor for an incident in which she had failed to dispatch the fire department according to policy. Claimant saw Reagan the next month, after which Reagan wrote: "Work stress worsening. Written up. Possibly fired. * * * PTSD nightmares worse. Reoccurring thoughts worse." (Uppercase omitted.) Following that February 2014 appointment, Reagan sent a letter to employer excusing claimant from work due to "work stress." In response to Reagan's letter, claimant's supervisor submitted an 801 claim form on claimant's behalf and listed "work related stress" as claimant's illness or injury[1] Although Reagan's letter did not specifically identify claimant's condition as PTSD, the parties and the board have subsequently treated her compensation claim as one for that particular disorder.

         [290 Or. 540] A second psychiatrist, Dr. Telew, evaluated claimant at the request of SAIF, employer's insurer. Telew diagnosed major depressive ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.