DELORES J. STOVER, Claimant Below, Petitioner
CHARLESTON AREA MEDICAL CENTER, Employer Below, Respondent
Appeal No. 2051335) (Claim No. 2015004782)
Delores J. Stover, by Patrick K. Maroney, her attorney,
appeals the decision of the West Virginia Workers'
Compensation Board of Review. Charleston Area Medical Center,
by H. Dill Battle III, its attorney, filed a timely response.
issue on appeal is whether Ms. Stover developed carpal tunnel
syndrome in the course of and resulting from her employment.
The claims administrator rejected the claim on October 20,
2014. The Office of Judges affirmed the decision in its April
28, 2016, Order. The Order was affirmed by the Board of
Review on November 21, 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
Stover, a data entry clerk and linen department worker,
alleges that she developed carpal tunnel syndrome in the
course of and resulting from her employment. She filed a
report of injury on April 1, 2014, with last exposure date of
May 8, 2012. Ms. Stover stated that she injured her left and
right hands up to her arms. The physician's section was
completed by Iraj Derakhshan, M.D., on March 19, 2014. He
indicated the initial date of treatment was January 28, 2014.
The injury was listed as bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome.
notes by Nathan Menon, M.D., indicate Ms. Stover was referred
for bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. She initially reported
on Aril 23, 2014, that she had symptoms for at least two
years. An EMG performed on January 28, 2014, showed severe
bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Menon noted that Ms.
Stover used to be a data entry professional but lost her job
two years prior because she could not perform her duties due
to numbness and tingling in both hands. Her chronic problems
included diabetes, fibromyalgia, hypertension, and obesity.
She was assessed with carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital
tunnel syndrome. Dr. Menon advised Ms. Stover that part of
her symptoms could be due to diabetic neuropathy. Ms. Stover
underwent right carpal tunnel release surgery on April 29,
Stover completed a carpal tunnel syndrome questionnaire on
October 6, 2014. She stated that she had numbness, tingling,
and pain in her hands. She dropped things held in her right
hand. She had trouble sleeping due to bilateral hand pain.
She first noticed the symptoms six plus years prior. Ms.
Stover stated that she was a data entry clerk and also worked
in laundry. She reported that she had an EMG in 2012 but was
told that she did not have carpal tunnel syndrome.
claims administrator rejected the claim on October 20, 2014.
It stated that Ms. Stover's carpal tunnel syndrome did
not arise from her employment. It noted that she reported a
2012 EMG that did not show carpal tunnel syndrome. However, a
2014 EMG revealed carpal tunnel syndrome. The claims
administrator determined that Ms. Stover only worked for
Charleston Area Medical Center for a month between EMGs (June
2012 to July 2012). The carpal tunnel syndrome was therefore
found not to be employment related.
Stover testified in a deposition on July 17, 2015, that she
started working for Charleston Area Medical Center in 1990
filling carts with linens, weighing them, and putting them on
trucks. She filled thirty to forty carts a day and they
weighed between 300 and 600 pounds. The carts weighed 223
pounds when empty and were moved by hand by both pushing and
pulling. She performed these duties for twelve years. After
that, she moved to data entry and did that for eleven years.
She also still did some laundry duties if they were short
staffed. She stated that she had pain for a few years off and
on prior to her last day of May 8, 2012. She stated that she
attempted to return to work in July of 2012 but could not do
it. She admitted to having diabetes but asserted that she was
diagnosed a few years prior and noticed no change in her
carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms when she began taking
medicine for her diabetes. She underwent surgery on both
hands. Ms. Stover testified that Kimberly Spurlock, M.D.,
told her that her carpal tunnel syndrome could have been
caused by her employment duties. She stated that the carpal
tunnel syndrome surgery helped with her pain somewhat.
August 25, 2015, independent medical evaluation, Marsha
Bailey, M.D., found that Ms. Stover had her first EMG on
August 23, 2000, and no evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome
was reported. She next underwent an EMG on May 17, 2001, and
Glen Goldfarb, M.D., noted at that time that Ms. Stover
reported right arm pain and that she had diabetes and
obesity. Dr. Bailey noted that she underwent a cervical MRI
on June 13, 2002, for neck pain with right shoulder, arm, and
hand pain with numbness and swelling for two years. Dr.
Bailey noted that in a November 10, 2003, gastric bypass
consultation, Ms. Stover was diagnosed with morbid obesity,
hypertension, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, and
arthropathy. Dr. Bailey opined that the diagnosis of
bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome is solely the result of Ms.
Stover's personal risk factors and is unrelated to her
former occupation. Dr. Bailey stated that she has suffered
many other consequences of her long standing morbid obesity
including type II diabetes, diabetic peripheral neuropathies
of her hands and feet, hypertension, high cholesterol,
gastroesophageal reflux disease, and early onset arthritis.
Office of Judges affirmed the rejection of the claim on April
28, 2016. It noted that West Virginia Code of State Rules
§ 85-20-41 (2006) provides medical conditions which
frequently produce or contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome
such as diabetes and obesity. Further, medical literature
notes a high prevalence of concurrent medical conditions
capable of causing carpal tunnel syndrome regardless of
occupation. Consideration must also be given to the fact that
3.1% of the general population has carpal tunnel syndrome and
half of those cases are idiopathic. The Office of Judges
found Dr. Bailey's findings to be persuasive. She found
that Ms. Stover's job duties did not involve the awkward
wrist positioning, vibratory tools, significant grip force
and high force of repetitive movement shown to contribute to
carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Bailey found that her former job
tasks are not considered repetitious, forceful, or awkward
and that Ms. Stover simply did not have occupational
responsibilities that would place her at risk of carpal
tunnel syndrome. Even if the work were considered to be
repetitive, the sole cause of her carpal tunnel syndrome is
personal factors unrelated to her former employment. Dr.
Bailey found that Ms. Stover's long standing morbid
obesity has resulted in other chronic disease that are
unrelated to the claimant's work such as type II
diabetes, diabetic peripheral neuropathies of the hands and
feet, hypertension, high cholesterol, ERG, and arthropathies
which were first diagnosed in 2003. Ms. Stover's carpal
tunnel syndrome was also found to be the result of long
standing pre-existing conditions. The Office of Judges found
Dr. Bailey's opinion to be persuasive. The Board of
Review adopted the findings of fact and conclusions of law of
the Office of Judges and affirmed its Order on April 28,
review, we agree with the reasoning and conclusions of the
Office of Judges as affirmed by the Board of Review. Ms.
Stover's job duties do not involve awkward wrist
positioning, vibratory tools, significant grip force and high
force of repetitive movements that have been shown to
contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition, she has
pre-existing medical conditions known to cause carpal tunnel
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 ...