Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summary 2013 WY 96

Summary of Decision August 13, 2013

Chief Justice Kite delivered the opinion for the Court. Affirmed.


Docket Number: S-12-0280

URL: http://www.courts.state.wy.us/Opinions.aspx

Appeal from the District Court of Platte County, the Honorable John C. Brooks, Judge

Representing Appellant: Lynn Boak of Lynn Boak, Attorney at Law, LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee: Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; John D. Rossetti, Deputy Attorney General; Michael J. Finn, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Kelly Roseberry, Assistant Attorney General.

Date of Decision: August 13, 2013

Facts: Joseph O. Hayes, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, sought worker’s compensation benefits for treatment of pulmonary and other symptoms he believed were related to a workplace accident. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upheld the Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division’s (Division) denial of benefits, and the district court affirmed the OAH decision. Mr. Hayes appeals to this Court, claiming the OAH erred by failing to find a causal connection between his work injury and his later medical conditions. He asserts he presented sufficient evidence of the causal connection by his own testimony and the opinion of a registered nurse.

Issues: Although Mr. Hayes phrases the issues differently, the issues requiring resolution in this case are: 1. Whether there was substantial evidence to support the OAH conclusion that Mr. Hayes failed to prove the causal connection between his job related broken hand and his later symptoms requiring hospitalization. 2. Whether the OAH properly disregarded Mr. Hayes’ expert’s report. 3. Whether medical testimony was required to establish causation. The State’s statement of the issue contains the same general questions.

Holdings: In sum, Mr. Hayes maintains that he had been successful in keeping his cystic fibrosis under control for many years by engaging in regular, strenuous exercise. He was unable to exercise because of his work injury and within a month he experienced respiratory problems and joint pain. According to him, it is a natural conclusion that the injury led to his subsequent ailments. The problem with his argument is that he did not prove the critical causal link with credible medical evidence. Substantial evidence exists in the record to support the hearing examiner’s decision to reject the causation evidence offered by Mr. Hayes and that conclusion was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Affirmed.

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

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses the "Universal Citation." It was given an "official" citation when it was issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. You will also note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you need to provide a pinpoint citation to a quote the universal portion of the citation will use that paragraph number. The pinpoint citation in the P.3d portion will need to have the reporter page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation from this, or any future opinion using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library and we will provide any needed assistance]

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