McLaughlin v. Community Living Association
May 6, 2019
Gradual Injury Back Nurse Conflicting Testimony
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Ms. McLaughlin was a nurse at a residential facility for people with developmental disabilities. In 2011 a resident assaulted her, causing a cervical sprain but no incapacity. She later was given restrictions against overhead lifting and restraining patients, but a 2011 MRI scan showed no nerve root impingement in her neck. She got PT for only a month, as the therapist found no significant findings and released her to home therapy. Ms. McLaughlin continued getting treatment and in 2016 underwent a cervical discectomy. She filed petitions for incapacity and medical benefits, and Judge Pelletier awarded her only the protection of the Act for her injury, denying an award of medical or incapacity benefits. Ms. McLaughlin appealed.
She argued that Judge Pelletier focused on her initial medical records and not the later ones, but the panel held that the ALJs can attach significance to particular evidence, assess credibility of witnesses, and “choose between conflicting versions of the facts.” Ms. McLaughlin also contended that the WCB mediator previously worked for MEMIC and had “adjusted her claim when it was initially filed.” The panel noted that she was represented by counsel at mediation and did not put her objection “on the mediation record.” In addition, the mediation was unsuccessful anyway, so she proceeded to formal hearing. Finally, Ms. McLaughlin contended that the WCB advocate did not provide her with “effective legal assistance,” but the panel held that the concept did not apply to civil matters and that it was harmless error as Ms. McLaughlin had submitted additional arguments on her own behalf.