White v. SD Warren
Helmsman, Travelers and CCMSI
January 17, 2018
CategoriesGradual Injury Medical Evidence
Pre-Existing Gradual Injury Elbow Aggravation
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Mr. White had a prior 2000 elbow injury resulting from multiple past work traumas and work aggravation of his pre-existing arthritis. As S.D. Warren had filed a Petition for Review and Petition to Determine PI on that injury, seeking to discontinue benefits, Mr. White claimed a new work-aggravation injury.
Judge Elwin relied on the opinions of Dr. Bielecki, an occupational medicine specialist, whose medical opinion was shared by the prior surgeon and by Dr. Graf, Dr. Boucher and Dr. Phillips; Mr. White argued that she should have followed the opinion of Dr. Michael Mainen, who opined that he had a gradual 2009 injury. Judge Elwin found that his elbow condition was a continuation of his 2000 elbow injury and was not a new 2009 gradual injury. Mr. White appealed.
The Appellate Division panel found that Judge Elwin had properly considered Mr. White’s entire career S.D. Warren in determining that, despite occasional flare-ups of elbow symptoms, they were still causally related to the 2000 work injury and not to a new gradual injury. The panel found that, although there was contrary evidence in the record, it did not “compel the conclusion” that Mr. White sustained a gradual 2009 work injury. Instead, ALJs must weigh competing evidence and decide whether to accept or reject a particular expert medical opinion in whole or in part, and doing so is entirely within their judicial discretion.