Friday, February 21, 2014

Summary 2014 WY 25

Summary of Decision February 21, 2014

Justice Burke delivered the opinion of the Court. Affirmed.


Docket Number: S-13-0139


Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, the Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge

Representing Appellant: Dana J. Lent, Attorney at Law, Torrington, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General; John D. Rossetti, Deputy Attorney General; Michael J. Finn, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Brenda S. Yamaji, Assistant Attorney General.

Date of Decision: February 21, 2014

Facts: The Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division awarded benefits to Appellant, Deana Landwehr, after she experienced a workplace injury to her back in 1999. In 2008, Ms. Landwehr experienced a second workplace injury while employed in Nebraska. In 2010, Ms. Landwehr sought payment for prescription medication that she claimed was necessary treatment relating to her 1999 workplace injury. The Division denied the claim. Ms. Landwehr requested a contested case hearing, and the hearing examiner upheld the Division’s denial of benefits. Ms. Landwehr appealed to the district court, which affirmed the hearing examiner’s order. She challenges the district court’s decision in this appeal. We affirm.

Issue: Was the hearing examiner’s determination that Appellant failed to satisfy her burden of proof unsupported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole?

Holdings/Conclusion: In sum, the evidence in this case does not support Ms. Landwehr’s claim that the headaches she experienced in 2010 were related to the initial workplace injury to her mid-back. During the 11 years that elapsed since her initial workplace injury, Ms. Landwehr received at least four MRI’s, all of which were “unremarkable” and returned no objective evidence of a causal connection between her mid-thoracic strain and her claimed symptoms. Also during this time, Ms. Landwehr was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia, both of which provide possible explanations for her upper-extremity symptoms, and there is no evidence in the record to suggest that either of these diseases was related to the initial workplace injury. Most importantly, Dr. Hopfensperger’s testimony that the cause of Ms. Landwehr’s headaches was “idiopathic” and “occult” provides absolutely no basis to conclude that her headaches were, more probably than not, the result of her initial back injury in 1999, as opposed to the 2008 workplace injury to her head, for which she received a worker’s compensation settlement in Nebraska. We find substantial evidence to support the hearing examiner’s conclusion that there was no causal connection between Ms. Landwehr’s headaches and her 1999 workplace injury.

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 quotation, 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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