PAULA E. GRAY, Claimant Below, Petitioner,
ECOLAB (MARTINSBURG), Employer Below, Respondent
Appeal No. 2051455) (Claim No. 2016012834)
Gray alleges she injured her left hand and wrist while
putting bags on an automating machine on July 31, 2015. Her
claim for worker's compensation benefits was denied by
the claims administrator on February 24, 2016. We are asked
to determine whether the denial of the claim was proper.
After review, we find that the claim was properly denied as
the left upper extremity injury was not work-related. We
further find upon consideration of the standard of review,
the briefs, and the record presented, that there is no
substantial question of law and no prejudicial error
requiring oral argument. A memorandum decision is appropriate
under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
Gray, through her attorney Robert L. Stultz, argues that the
reliable, probative, and substantial evidence of the record
establishes the claim should be held compensable for a left
wrist sprain/strain and left elbow sprain/strain. Ecolab
(Martinsburg), through its attorney James S. Maloney, argues
that the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence of
record shows Ms. Gray did not sustain a compensable injury.
T. Salvagno, M.D., performed an independent medical
evaluation and noted Ms. Gray felt nerve pain in her left
wrist during July of 2015, but she did not recall any recent
history of injury to her left arm. He diagnosed a sustained
subluxation of the ulnar nerve on the right or at least an
irritation of the ulnar nerve at the cubital canal. He was
unable to draw a causal relationship between the mild ulnar
neuropathy and the work injury.
Craig Henry, M.D., a neurologist, treated Ms. Gray and noted
that EMG/NCV testing of the left upper extremity was
unremarkable and diagnosed numbness. Gongqiao Zhang, a
physician's assistant, listed the diagnoses of left wrist
sprain/strain and left elbow sprain/strain in the
Employee's and Physician's Report of Injury. He
opined the symptoms were due to the injury.
Salvagno prepared a supplemental report after reviewing
additional medical records and the first report of injury in
which he opined that the July 31, 2015, event did not qualify
as a new and distinct injury to the left wrist. The clinical
symptoms of mild ulnar neuropathy of the left wrist and elbow
were not related to the work incident. The claims
administrator rejected the claim on February 24, 2016.
Baechler, M.D., diagnosed bilateral ulnar abutment syndrome,
right radial ulnar joint arthritis, and he wanted to rule out
bilateral cubital tunnel syndrome. He recommended bilateral
MRIs and neuro-diagnostic testing. The MRIs revealed ulnar
abutment syndrome with central triangular fiber cartilage
complex perforation bilaterally and distal radial ulnar joint
arthrosis on the right. The neuro-diagnostic testing was
normal. He recommended bilateral wrist arthroscopy and distal
ulnar open water resection, which Ms. Gray underwent. Ms.
Gray testified that she continued to experience pain and
stiffness in the wrist after surgery, but she was working on
range of motion and grip strength. She expected to make a
full recovery and return to work full duty. She first started
having numbness in her hands in May of 2014.
Office of Judges affirmed the claims administrator's
rejection of the claim on July 11, 2016. It found Ms. Gray
had a history of idiopathic neuropathy in the lower
extremities and boney abnormality of the wrist. While Ms.
Gray alleged that she suffered a left wrist injury on July,
31, 2015, when she was working on light duty, she also
testified she had previous left wrist pain. Dr. Salvagno
opined that the mild ulnar neuropathy of the left arm was not
causally related to a July 31, 2015, work event. The Office
of Judges relied on the opinion of Dr. Salvagno and
determined that it was more likely than not that Ms. Gary did
not suffer a fortuitous event on July 31, 2015, in the course
of and as the result of her employment. The Board of Review
adopted the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the
Office of Judges and affirmed its Order on January 4, 2017.
that the evidentiary record shows that Ms. Gray had left
wrist pain and numbness dating back to May of 2014. The
record did not include an opinion of Dr. Baechler, who
performed the surgery, regarding the causation of the left
wrist condition. Dr. Salvagno opined the mild ulnar
neuropathy was not work-related. The Office of Judges relied
on the opinion of Dr. Salvagno. Its assessment of the
evidence should not be disturbed on appeal.
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 evidentiary
record. Therefore, the decision of the Board of Review is
ISSUED: November 22, 2017
CONCURRED IN BY: Chief Justice Allen H. Loughry II Justice
Robin J. Davis Justice Margaret L. Workman Justice Menis ...