ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY CORRECTION AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEE CLAIMS DIVISION APPELLANTS
KATHY MOORE APPELLEE
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
H. Montgomery, for appellants.
McKinnon Law Firm, by: David L. Schneider, for appellee.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, JUDGE.
Arkansas Department of Community Correction (DCC) appeals the
decision of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission
(the Commission) that reversed the administrative law judge
(ALJ) and found that Kathy Moore had proved that she was
entitled to additional medical treatment and temporary
total-disability (TTD) benefits. DCC argues that the
Commission's decision is not supported by substantial
evidence. We affirm.
March 2015, Moore sustained an admittedly compensable injury
to her back, right shoulder, and neck after falling off a
concrete step. DCC paid some medical benefits and TTD
benefits until 18 June 2015. Moore sought additional medical
treatment in the form of neck surgery and additional TTD
benefits; however, DCC contended that Moore's compensable
injury had received all appropriate treatment and that the
neck surgery was to treat a preexisting degenerative
condition. An ALJ conducted a hearing to determine
Moore's entitlement to additional medical expenses and
testimony at the hearing revealed the following. Moore was
forty-nine years old and has a master's degree in
addiction studies. After her fall on 4 March 2015, she saw
Dr. Alexander at Healthcare Plus, where she had x-rays taken
and was given medication. She was also referred to and
received physical therapy. Dr. Alexander referred her to Dr.
Adametz, a neurosurgeon in Little Rock, who ultimately
recommended that she have surgery on her neck. The
workers'-compensation provider requested a medical
evaluation with a different doctor and sent her to Dr.
Cathey, who agreed that Moore was a candidate for the surgery
but opined that "the indication for the surgery is in no
way related to the occupational injury of March 4,
2015." In Dr. Cathey's opinion, Moore suffered a
concussion and a musculoskeletal strain as a result of the
March 4 injury, and the degenerative disc disease and
spondylosis reflected on her MRI scan "were clearly
preexisting at the time of the study on May 1, 2015."
Dr. Cathey declared Moore was at maximum medical improvement,
and further workers'-compensation benefits were denied.
Moore used her health insurance to see another doctor, Dr.
Rubin, who performed the neck surgery in March 2016.
to Moore, she was in pain every day before the surgery,
including pain in her neck, down her neck to her shoulders,
pain in her lower back, nerve damage in her right arm, and
numbness in her hands and feet. She denied having any of
these problems before the fall, and she said that the surgery
relieved a great deal of the pain. She later admitted that
she had hurt her ankle before on the job and that she had
previously had back problems. Moore also did not dispute
that, as a diabetic, she had previously complained of
headaches and numbness in her fingers.
documentation entered into evidence included Dr. Cathey's
written opinion, as explained above, as well as Dr.
Adametz's deposition testimony taken 19 April 2016. In
his deposition testimony, Dr. Adametz explained that
Moore's May 1 MRI showed cervical spondylosis, which he
believed "could easily be traumatic as opposed to just
degenerative, " and "because they came on shortly
after this fall, she related it all to it, I assumed they
were from it." Dr. Adametz considered the MRI scan to be
an objective finding and opined that any degenerative damage
"appeared to at least have been exacerbated, if not
caused by the injury." Also included was Dr. Rubin's
written opinion, in which he opined that Moore had
degenerative changes with cervical stenosis on her MRI that
were pre-existing her fall. However, she became symptomatic
after her fall and she may have aggravated a pre-existing
condition at the time of the fall. Considering the degree of
cervical stenosis and that her symptoms may represent early
myelopathy, I agree with Dr. Adametz's recommendation
opinion filed 18 August 2016, the ALJ stated that the issue
was "the compensability (causal connection) of the
claimant's injury and present condition." The ALJ
the claimant's neck injury encompasses a larger area (3-4
disc level) than would be expected from this trauma. The
radiologist refers to her condition as spondylotic
disc protrusions, suggesting a chronic rather than acute
condition. And finally, the claimant's history of injury
and symptomology have changed over time. I find the claimant
has not met her burden of proof.
also found that "claimant has failed to prove by a
preponderance of the credible evidence that she sustained a
compensable injury." So Moore's claim for further
medical treatment and TTD benefits was denied and dismissed.
appealed to the full Commission, and in a 2-1 decision, the
Commission reversed the ALJ's opinion and ruled that
Moore had proved entitlement to additional medical treatment
and TTD ...