FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
& Brooks, P.A., by: Evelyn E. Brooks, for appellant.
Bodenhamer, for appellees.
MARK KLAPPENBACH, JUDGE.
Daniel Rude appeals from the decision of the Arkansas
Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) finding
that he had failed to prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that he suffered from complex regional pain syndrome
("CRPS") as a result of his compensable
right-shoulder injury. Rude argues that the Commission's
decision is not supported by substantial evidence. We affirm.
then twenty-five years old, sustained an admittedly
compensable injury to his right shoulder while performing
firefighter training in April 2015. He was treated with
physical therapy for his shoulder injury but continued to
have pain. Over the course of more than a year, Rude saw
numerous doctors in pursuit of a diagnosis and treatment for
his pain. Two orthopedic surgeons who evaluated Rude, Dr.
John Marcus Heim and Dr. Wesley Cox, noted that he had
symptoms consistent with CRPS. Both referred Rude to pain-
management and CRPS specialists. Two of these specialists,
Dr. David Cannon and Dr. Ronald Harbut, opined that Rude had
CRPS, and two other specialists, Dr. Eugerie Hanley and Dr.
Carlos Roman, opined that he did not have CRPS. At the time
of the hearing before the administrative law judge (ALJ),
Rude was being treated for CRPS by Dr. Katinka van der Merwe,
a chiropractor who said she specializes in the treatment of
the neurologic symptoms of CRPS.
Roman was the only doctor to testify by deposition in the
case. He testified that he is a board-certified
anesthesiologist specializing in pain management and that he
saw ten to twenty RSD patients a week. As explained in his
testimony and in two reports, Dr. Roman's evaluation led
him to conclude that Rude did not have CRPS. He stated that
Rude's clinical presentation did not show any signs of
the condition and that tests that can help identify the
condition were negative. Following his examination of Rude,
Dr. Roman reviewed surveillance video of Rude using his right
hand to, among other things, hold various items and open car
doors. Dr. Roman explained that Rude did not show any
restraint in the use of his right arm and hand in the video
and that this was not compatible with Dr. Harbut's
diagnosis of CRPS. Dr. Roman stated that the video strongly
supported his opinion that Rude did not have CRPS.
found that the opinion of Dr. Roman was entitled to the
greatest weight because he was the only physician who had
evaluated Rude and reviewed the surveillance video. Based on
Dr. Roman's opinion, the ALJ concluded that Rude had
failed to meet his burden of proving by a preponderance of
the evidence that he suffered from CRPS and was entitled to
additional medical treatment and temporary total-disability
benefits. The Commission affirmed and adopted the decision of
reviewing a decision of the Commission, we view the evidence
and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to
the Commission's findings, and the decision will be
affirmed if it is supported by substantial evidence.
Walker v. Fresenius Med. Care Holding, Inc., 2014
Ark.App. 322, 436 S.W.3d 164. Substantial evidence exists if
reasonable minds could reach the Commission's conclusion.
Id. When a claim is denied due to the claimant's
failure to prove entitlement to compensation by a
preponderance of the evidence, the substantial-evidence
standard of review requires this court to affirm if the
Commission's opinion displays a substantial basis for the
denial of relief. Id. When there are contradictions
in the evidence, it is within the Commission's province
to reconcile conflicting evidence and to determine the true
facts. Id. Questions of weight and credibility are
within the sole province of the Commission, which is not
required to believe the testimony of the claimant or of any
other witness but may accept and translate into findings of
fact only those portions of the testimony it deems worthy of
belief. Id. We will not reverse the Commission's
decision unless we are convinced that fair-minded persons
with the same facts before them could not have reached the
conclusions arrived at by the Commission. Id.
argues that the Commission improperly discounted the
diagnosis of CRPS made by five doctors, including two experts
in the field of CRPS. He emphasizes Dr. Harbut's in-depth
report of his evaluation and diagnosis and notes that Dr.
Harbut specifically addressed Dr. Roman's opinion. Rude
also relies on two letters from Dr. van der Merwe that detail
objective evidence of his condition and the positive results
from treatment he had received.
Commission addressed the opinion of each doctor who had
evaluated Rude but ultimately gave greater weight to the
opinion of Dr. Roman. It was up to the Commission, as the
finder of fact, to resolve conflicting medical opinions and
evidence. Hernandez v. Wal-Mart Assocs., Inc., 2009
Ark.App. 531, 337 S.W.3d 531. Dr. Roman was the only
physician to view the surveillance video and was the second
specialist to find that Rude did not have CRPS. Although Rude
claims that Dr. van der Merwe provided an explanation for his
use of his hand in the video, this evidence is contradictory
to Dr. Roman's opinion. When the Commission chooses to
accept the testimony of one physician over that of another,
the appellate court is powerless to reverse the decision.
Hernandez, supra. We conclude that the
evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the
Commission's findings, is such that reasonable minds
could have reached the conclusion of the Commission without
resort to speculation or conjecture.
Harrison and ...