Olean Aslanidi v. International Paper Co.
Old Republic Insurance Co.
March 27, 2023
CategoriesMental Stress Injury Board IME Board IME Mental Stress Injury
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Olena Aslanidi v. International Paper, Co., Dec. No. 23-06- Where employee had preexisting psychiatric and neurological episodes, the ALJ did not err in requiring expert medical evidence that police intervention to remove her from workplace at employer’s request during psychotic episode because causation was not clear and obvious. Aslanidi worked as an account specialist. She had a history of psychotic episodes and in April of 2017 her husband had to pick her up from work due to such an episode. On January 8, 2018 she was exhibiting confusion and symptoms similar to what she had in April 2017. Due to a refusal to leave the employer requested police intervention. She ultimately left with assistance from the police and her husband.
Aslanidi filed a petition for award claiming a mental injury caused by mental stress under sec. 201(3-A). The ALJ denied the petition finding that the police intervention was not the predominant cause of her stress as required by the statute and that she did not provide expert medical evidence of causation. Aslanidi argued that expert medical evidence was not required because the causation was obvious. Citing several decisions, the Appellate Division affirmed concluding that it is required unless medical causation was clear and obvious. Because of her prior psychotic episodes the ALJ correctly concluded causation was not clear and obvious. The panel also rejected her claim that the ALJ erred in relying on the opinions of board IME Dr. Barkin because Dr. Barkin did not have the correct specialty, was biased because the employer paid his fee and she lacked the ability to cross-exam Dr. Barkin.