CHAD S. THOMPSON, Claimant Below, Petitioner
HUNTINGTON ALLOYS CORPORATION, Employer Below, Respondent
Appeal No. 2051096) (Claim No. 2014030912)
Chad S. Thompson, by Edwin H. Pancake, his attorney, appeals
the decision of the West Virginia Workers' Compensation
Board of Review. Huntington Alloys Corporation, by Jillian L.
Moore, its attorney, filed a timely response.
issue on appeal is the closure of the claim for temporary
total disability benefits. The claims administrator closed
the claim for temporary total disability benefits on August
27, 2014. The Office of Judges affirmed the decision in its
January 21, 2016, Order. The Order was affirmed by the Board
of Review on August 2, 2016. The Court has carefully reviewed
the records, written arguments, and appendices contained in
the briefs, and the case is mature for consideration.
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds no substantial question of law and no
prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision
is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate
Thompson, a mechanic, was injured in the course of his
employment on April 8, 2014, when he bent over to open a
valve and felt pain in his back and leg. Mr. Thomson filed a
report of injury on April 25, 2014, stating that he injured
his back and right leg on April 8, 2014, when he was bending
over to open a valve. He was diagnosed with a sprain of the
right lumbosacral and sacroiliac areas as well as lumbar
radiculitis. The claim was held compensable for lumbar sprain
and Mr. Thompson was eligible for temporary total disability
benefits from April 25, 2014, through May 12, 2014.
Thompson was treated by Allen Young, M.D., for the injury. A
treatment note indicates Mr. Thompson was diagnosed with
lumbosacral strain with radiculopathy on April 15, 2014. On
April 22, 2014, he was released to return to modified duty
with no lifting over twenty pounds and no repetitive bending
or stooping. A modified duty program assessment form was
completed on April 25, 2014. Mr. Thompson was taken off of
work and was to begin chiropractic sessions. On May 13, 2014,
he reported that chiropractic treatment was not working. He
was ordered to stop it and begin physical therapy. A modified
duty program assessment form was completed on May 27, 2014,
and indicated Mr. Thompson continued to be off of work. On
June 10, 2014, Mr. Thompson was still unable to work. He was
to continue physical therapy for two more weeks and have a
neurosurgical consultation. On July 18, 2014, he was released
to return to modified duty. On June 24, 2014, treatment notes
indicate Mr. Thompson was awaiting authorization for a
neurosurgical consultation. He was off of work at that time.
On July 8, 2014, Mr. Thompson continued to be off of work and
it was noted that he had no lumbar problems prior to the
compensable injury. In a July 18, 2014, update, it was noted
that he was again on modified duty. On August 12, 2014, Dr.
Young ordered three lumbar spine injections. Finally, on
August 29, 2014, Mr. Thompson was again noted to be off of
work. He was feeling somewhat better since a spine injection
a week prior. He was starting to work again and was
tolerating it better.
June 3, 2014, independent medical evaluation, Michael
Condaras, M.D., opined that Mr. Thompson would be at maximum
medical improvement following two additional weeks of
physical therapy. He found that Mr. Thompson was capable of
working light duty with weight restrictions of fifteen pounds
and avoidance of frequent twisting and bending. He found that
Table 75 of the American Medical Association's Guides
to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (4th ed. 1993)
would not be used due to pre-existing findings seen on the
MRI. Using West Virginia Code of State Rules § 85-20-C
(2006), he placed Mr. Thompson in Lumbar Category II and
assessed 6% impairment.
10, 2014, letter by Evelyn Webb, R.N., indicates Dr. Young
saw Mr. Thompson that day for a lumbar sprain. Mr. Thompson
was undergoing physical therapy. It was noted that a lumbar
MRI taken on April 23, 2014, showed a disc injury at L4-5. A
July 3, 2014, treatment note from Pleasant Valley Hospital
physical therapy center indicates Mr. Thompson was being
treated for a lumbar bulging disc. Treatment began on May 22,
2014. He reported feeling 50% better overall.
claims administrator denied Dr. Young's request for three
epidural steroid injections on July 22, 2014, because Mr.
Thompson was found to be at maximum medical improvement as of
June 30, 2014. It also stated that the MRI showed minimal
degenerative disc changes at L3-4 with no additional
findings. It further noted that West Virginia Code of State
Rules § 85-20-37.6 (2006) states that strains/sprains
exceeding eight weeks of treatment requires detailed
reevaluation and no objective evidence was provided to
substantiate veering from the guidelines. The claims
administrator granted a 6% permanent partial disability award
on July 24, 2014. On August 27, 2014, it closed the claim for
temporary total disability benefits.
October 28, 2014, treatment note, Dr. Young stated that he
was administering Mr. Thompson's third injection. He was
still experiencing a lot of pain even after treatment. There
was no significant change overall. Dr. Young stated that he
would get a referral to Marshall University Neurosurgery. A
treatment note by Joseph DeLapa II, M.D., dated December 16,
2014, indicates Mr. Thompson was seen for pain management.
The impressions were lumbar spondylosis, lumbar stenosis, and
lumbar degenerative disc disease. Dr. DeLapa recommended
diagnostic block injections.
Thompson testified in a deposition on May 5, 2015, that he
first missed work on April 26, 2014. He stated that this back
injury originally was not bad but progressively worsened.
When he saw Dr. Condaras, he was not at maximum medical
improvement but Dr. Condaras stated that he would be at
maximum medical improvement shortly. Mr. Thompson stated that
he finished physical therapy and returned to work on modified
duty on July 9, 2014. He worked for thirty days doing nothing
but filing paperwork. After thirty days, he again stopped
working. He returned to work full time on February 9, 2015.
He stated that he noticed improvements or changes between the
time his temporary total disability benefits stopped and when
he returned to work in February. He stated that other than
minor muscle pulls, he had no pre-existing back problems or
Office of Judges affirmed claims administrator's closure
of the claim for temporary total disability benefits on
January 21, 2016. It found that Mr. Thompson was evaluated by
Dr. Condaras on June 3, 2014, and Dr. Condaras authored a
report on June 14, 2014. He opined that Mr. Thompson suffered
a lumbar sprain, which is the compensable condition. Dr.
Condaras asserted that Mr. Thompson would reach maximum
medical improvement following two additional weeks of
physical therapy. Mr. Thompson testified in his deposition
that he continued his therapy. Dr. Condaras then found that
he had 6% whole person impairment. Mr. Thompson was granted a
permanent partial disability award on July 24, 2015. He
returned to work on July 9, 2014. The Office of Judges found
that Mr. Thompson completed physical therapy, was released to
return to work, and did actually return to work. He was
therefore no longer entitled to temporary total disability
benefits. The Board of Review adopted the findings of fact
and conclusions of law of the Office of Judges and affirmed
its Order on August 2, 2016.
review, we agree with the reasoning of the Office of Judges
and conclusions of the Board of Review. Pursuant to West
Virginia Code § 23-4-7a (2005), temporary total
disability benefits will cease when the claimant has reached
maximum medical improvement, has been released to return to
work, or has returned to work, whichever occurs first. In
this case Mr. Thompson was found to be at maximum medical
improvement, released to return to work, and actually did
return to work. The case was properly closed for temporary
total disability benefits.
foregoing reasons, we find that the decision of the Board of
Review is not in clear violation of any constitutional or
statutory provision, nor is it clearly the result of
erroneous conclusions of law, nor is it based upon a material
misstatement or mischaracterization of the ...