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August 2018 Worker’s Compensation Case Law Update

By Attorney Jennifer Augustin

The month of August was a slow one for the Wisconsin worker’s compensation courts. The single LIRC case published from August is summarized below. As always, please feel free to reach out to your Aplin & Ringsmuth attorneys with any questions you may have about this case, or about any of your own claims. We are happy to help.

Bemis v. EIS, Inc. and Safety National Casualty Corp., Claim No. 2014-020841 (LIRC August 15, 2018).

The applicant, a warehouse worker, claimed a right shoulder injury occurring on August 11, 2014. His treating doctor, Dr. Schneider, supported a permanent aggravation of a pre-existing condition (box 12 on the WKC-16-B form). The applicant was known to have significant right shoulder problems dating back to 2004, with an arthroscopic distal clavicle excision on August 19, 2013, approximately one year prior to the alleged work injury. Following the alleged work injury, Dr. Schneider noted that the applicant never fully recovered from his surgery the year before, but noted that the applicant’s severe pain had resolved until the incident on August 11, 2014. At the respondents’ request, Dr. Grindel performed an independent medical examination and opined that the applicant sustained, at most, a minor right shoulder strain as a result of the August 11, 2014 incident. While the administrative law judge found in favor of the applicant and awarded benefits consistent with Dr. Schneider’s opinions, the Commission disagreed and found Dr. Grindel’s opinions to be more credible. They explained that the applicant’s testimony was less than credible (claiming full right shoulder function prior to the work injury contrary to the pre-existing medical records). The Commission further noted that Dr. Schneider did not provide any medical analysis for his opinion that the work incident resulted in a permanent injury. His WKC-16-B form referred the reader to his office notes, which did not provide any detailed, credible explanation. Therefore, the Commission awarded limited benefits consistent with Dr. Grindel’s opinions. Please note that this decision has been appealed to the Circuit Court.