O'Brien v. Quintel IV Company
February 14, 2018
Back IME§312 Gradual Injury
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Ms. O’Brien injured her low back at work in 2011 and obtained a decree in 2014 based on a §312 IME finding that her work injury had occurred but had resolved. Ms. O’Brien then filed a new petition alleging a 2012 gradual injury. The same §312 IME doctor then determined that her chronic back pain related to her 2011 injury and that she did not have a gradual injury thereafter. Judge Jerome declined to adopt the new §312 IME opinion, however, as it contradicted her prior decree; instead, she relied on Ms. O’Brien’s treating doctor and found a gradual injury, apparently awarding benefits accordingly. Quintel appealed.
The Appellate Division affirmed the decision, finding Judge Jerome’s decree expressed valid reasons for rejecting the most recent findings of the IME doctor, both because it was directly contradictory to her prior decree and because the doctor had changed his opinion for reasons he failed to explain, thus undercutting his credibility. The panel held that her 2014 factual findings were "binding on the parties, even if erroneous."