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 Jewell

Court of Appeals of Oregon

May 16, 2018

In the Matter of the Compensation of Liska I. Jewell, Claimant.
v.
SAIF CORPORATION and Central Oregon Community College, Respondents. Liska I. JEWELL, Petitioner,

          Argued and submitted July 12, 2017

          Workers' Compensation Board 1503945;

          Christopher D. Moore argued the cause and fled the briefs for petitioner.

          Lea Kear argued the cause and fled the brief for respondents.

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

         Case Summary: Claimant seeks review of an order of the Workers' Compensation Board upholding SAIF's denial of her injury claim for a left elbow condition, contending that the board erred in determining that claimant's condition was properly analyzed as an occupational disease without first determining whether the condition was compensable as an injury. Held: The board is required in its analysis of a claim to apply the correct legal standard, and, to do so, it must determine the nature of the claim. Medical evidence in the record requires the conclusion that the medical services for which claimant seeks compensation were for treatment of a "disease" rather than an injury, and substantial evidence supports the board's conclusion that the work incident was not the major contributing cause of the need for treatment.

         Affirmed.

          [291 Or.App. 704] EGAN, C. J.

         Claimant seeks review of an order of the Workers' Compensation Board upholding SAIF's denial of her injury claim for medical services for a left elbow condition. We review the board's order for substantial evidence and error of law, ORS 183.482(8), ORS 656.298(7), conclude that the board did not err, and therefore affirm.

         Claimant works for employer as a sign language interpreter. While interpreting for a class, claimant felt something "tweak" in her arm and began to experience pain in her elbow. Medical evidence shows that claimant's elbow pain, although first experienced while claimant was "signing, " was a symptom of conditions that developed over time (medial epicondylitis and ulnar neuropathy) that were not caused by claimant's work activity.

         Claimant pursued her claim on an injury theory, seeking compensation for the treatment of her elbow condition. The board determined that claimant's claim should properly be analyzed as an occupational disease and rejected it, finding that there was insufficient proof of an occupational disease.[1]

         On judicial review, claimant contends that the board mistakenly jumped to determine the nature of claimant's "condition, " without first determining whether it was compensable as an injury. Claimant asserts that, irrespective of the conditions underlying her symptoms, claimant's work event constituted an injury, as defined in ORS 656.005 (7)(a), and that the board mistakenly focused on the cause of claimant's symptoms rather than on the compensability of the work injury. In claimant's view, the only question that should have been addressed was whether the incident at work was a material cause of the need for treatment of the elbow condition; if so, claimant contends, the claim is compensable as an injury.

          [291 Or.App. 705] Claimant's approach is not consistent with our case law and would require a departure from the way claims are traditionally analyzed. The board is required in its analysis of a claim to apply the correct legal standard, and to do so, it must determine the nature of the claim. It is within the board's authority to determine that a claim brought on an injury theory is properly characterized as an occupational disease claim. DiBrito v. SAIF, 319 Or. 244, 248, 875 P.3d 459 (1994) ("[I]n reviewing the record of a workers' compensation claim, the Board's first task is to determine which provisions of the Workers' Compensation Law are applicable."); see Clark v. Erdman Meat Packing, 88 Or.App. 1, 4-5, 744 P.2d 255 (1987), rev den, 305 Or. 102 (1988); O'Neal v. Sisters of Providence, 22 Or.App. 9, 12-13, 537 P.2d 580 (1975) (ultimate decision as to compensability turns on whether the claimant's condition is properly characterized as an injury or an occupational disease). Claimant's approach would bypass that preliminary step. It is true that claimant has not pursued an occupational disease theory of compensability, but the fact that she pursues only an injury theory does not obviate the need to determine whether the symptoms for which she seeks compensation have their origin in an "injury." The medical evidence demonstrates that they do not. Rather, the medical evidence supports the board's finding that claimant's symptoms were caused by preexisting conditions in her elbow and shoulder.

         Citing this court's opinion in Brown v. SAIF, 262 Or.App. 640, 325 P.3d 834 (2014), rev'd, 361 Or. 241, 391 P.3d 773 (2017), claimant contends that, in order to determine whether she has suffered a compensable injury, there is no reason to explore the nature of her "condition"; the fact of an "injurious event" at work causing symptoms and requiring treatment is sufficient, in her view, to establish an "injury" under ORS 656.005(7) ("A 'compensable injury' is an accidental injury, or accidental injury to prosthetic appliances, arising out of and in the course of employment requiring medical services or resulting in ...


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.