Thursday, December 08, 2011

Summary 2011 WY 160

Summary of Decision December 8, 2011

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Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court

Case Name: Price v. State, ex rel., Worker’s Safety and Compensation Division

Citation: 2100 WY 160

Docket Number: S-11-0117


Appeal from the District Court of Fremont County, Honorable Norman E. Young, Judge

Representing Appellant (Petitioner): Sky D Phifer, Phifer Law Office, Lander, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee (Respondent): Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; John D. Rossetti, Deputy Attorney General; James M. Causey, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

Date of Decision: December 8, 2011

Facts: The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upheld the decision of the Wyoming Worker’s Safety and Compensation Division (Division) denying the appellant reimbursement of medical expenses for an injury suffered following a work-related accident on the basis that the subsequent injury was not work related.

Issues: Whether substantial evidence supports the hearing examiner’s decision upholding the Division’s denial of payment for medical services relating to the appellant’s cervical spine.

Holdings: The appellant must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that she is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. To meet her burden of proof, the appellant needed to produce substantial evidence not just that her shoulder pain is emanating from her cervical spine, but also that any damage to her cervical spine is a direct result of her slip and fall at work. While it is true that the appellant has been experiencing pain in her shoulder area since shortly after her slip and fall, the record contains substantial evidence showing that this pain was not necessarily related to the accident. Although a number of physicians suggested that perhaps the pain was emanating from the cervical spine, nerve tests, x-rays, and an MRI did not establish this and, more importantly, such examinations did not show, nor did any doctor suggest, that any imperfections in the appellant’s cervical spine were caused by her fall. It was reasonable for the Hearing Examiner to conclude, based upon substantial evidence in the record, that the appellant did not meet her burden of establishing that her shoulder pain was the result of her workplace slip and fall.


J. Voigt delivered the opinion for the court.

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