CATHERINE E. SPRINKLE, Claimant Below, Petitioner
QUAD/GRAPHICS, INC., Employer Below, Respondent
Appeal No. 2051464) (Claim No. 2015025246)
Catherine E. Sprinkle, by Christopher J. Wallace, her
attorney, appeals the decision of the West Virginia
Workers' Compensation Board of Review. Quad/Graphics,
Inc., by Jeffrey Carder and Jeffrey B. Brannon, its
attorneys, filed a timely response.
issue on appeal is whether cervical radiculopathy should be
added as a compensable component of the claim. This appeal
originated from the June 11, 2015, claims administrator's
decision denying the request to add cervical strain and
cervical radiculopathy as compensable conditions in the claim
and from the July 10, 2015, claims administrator's
decision denying the request for a cervical MRI . In its
June 30, 2016, Order, the Workers' Compensation Office of
Judges reversed the claims administrator's June 11, 2015,
decision and added cervical sprain/strain as a compensable
condition but held that cervical radiculopathy remains a
non-compensable condition. The Office of Judges also reversed
the July 10, 2015, claims administrator's decision and
authorized a cervical MRI. The Board of Review's Final
Order dated February 17, 2017, affirmed the Order of the
Office of Judges. 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
E. Sprinkle, a finish technician, was injured in the course
of her employment on March 19, 2015, when she lifted books
over her head and suffered sudden onset pain in her shoulder
and back. Ms. Sprinkle was treated by Heather Saville, PA, at
Quad/Med and diagnosed with left shoulder pain. Ms. Sprinkle
did not report neck pain at that time. Ms. Sprinkle's
shoulder pain continued and on March 31, 2015, she underwent
an MRI which revealed a small amount of fluid and edema in
the sub-acromial sub-deltoid bursa. The underlying rotator
cuff was intact and there were no labral tears or joint
effusion. The biceps and bicipital labral junction were
within normal limits. On March 31, 2015, the claims
administrator held the claim compensable for a left shoulder
sprain on a no lost time basis.
April of 2015, Ms. Sprinkle began seeking treatment at the
Center for Orthopedic Excellence. She was examined by Kenneth
Guida, PA-C, on April 9, 2015. Mr. Guida noted a positive
Spurlings Maneuver to the left and cramping when Ms. Sprinkle
turned her head to the right. Ms. Sprinkle was given a
cortisone shot, placed on light duty at work, and referred
for physical therapy. Mr. Guida opined that all of Ms.
Sprinkle's symptoms were related to her compensable
injury. He also noted that Ms. Sprinkle was suffering from
left upper extremity radiculopathy. On April 15, 2015, Mr.
Guida diagnosed Ms. Sprinkle with left shoulder pain and a
cervical strain. A few weeks later on April 30, 2015, Ms.
Sprinkle returned to Mr. Guida, who noted that she was
experiencing spasms in her cervical region and numbness in
the left hand. Mr. Guida diagnosed shoulder pain, cervical
strain, and left upper extremity radiculopathy with cervical
spasms, all of which were attributed to her compensable
injury. Mr. Guida ordered a cervical MRI. Ms. Sprinkle
subsequently sought to have the conditions of cervical sprain
and cervical radiculopathy added as compensable conditions of
the claim and requested authorization for a cervical MRI.
11, 2015, the claims administrator denied the request to add
cervical strain and cervical radiculopathy as secondary
conditions in the claim. Shortly thereafter, the claims
administrator denied the request for a cervical MRI on July
10, 2015. Ms. Sprinkle was evaluated by Karoly Varga, M.D., a
neurologist, on July 30, 2015. Dr. Varga diagnosed Ms.
Sprinkle with cervical radiculopathy, left brachial
plexopathy, and left thoracic outlet syndrome. Dr. Varga
opined that a cervical MRI and an upper extremity EMG/nerve
conduction study were needed. He recommended that Ms.
Sprinkle continue with physical therapy and remain on light
duty work. Per Dr. Varga's request, Ms. Sprinkle
underwent an EMG and nerve conduction study on November 17,
2015. The study showed chronic left multilevel cervical
radiculopathies versus left brachial plexopathy and bilateral
mild median neuropathies at the wrists. On December 3, 2015,
Ms. Sprinkle underwent a cervical MRI outside of the claim.
Saville testified in a deposition before the Office of Judges
on December 15, 2015. Ms. Saville testified that she worked
at Quad/Med and had treated Ms. Sprinkle regarding her
compensable injury. Ms. Saville noted that at the time of
injury, Ms. Sprinkle reported complaints of left shoulder
pain, upper arm pain, numbness, and pain down the left arm.
Ms. Sprinkle did not mention neck pain. Ms. Saville testified
that she examined Ms. Sprinkle's cervical and thoracic
spine and found them to be normal. She did detect decreased
range of motion in the shoulder. After the accident, Ms.
Saville next treated Ms. Sprinkle on March 24, 2015, and
noted that there was no neck pain. Ms. Saville treated Ms.
Sprinkle for the last time on April 7, 2015, and again stated
that there was no neck pain reported.
Sprinkle also testified in a deposition on December 15, 2015.
She stated that on the date of injury she had pain in her
neck, shoulder, and arm. Everything went numb from her
shoulder to her elbow and hand. Ms. Sprinkle noted that she
experienced muscle spasms in her neck and back on the day of
the injury and could not lift her arm above her neck or head.
She reported that she was eventually able to lift her arm
above her shoulder after receiving steroid injection
treatments and a cortisone shot. Ms. Sprinkle testified that
she did not recall having any neck injuries or pain prior to
the compensable injury. Ms. Sprinkle stated she still has
numbness and tingling in her left pinky finger, ring finger,
and palm that was not present prior to the injury.
January 28, 2016, Jonathan Luchs, M.D., from Diagnostic
Dating Specialists, LLC, reviewed Ms. Sprinkles's medical
records and authored a report concluding that the cervical
MRI performed on December 3, 2015, demonstrated multilevel
degenerative disc disease with desiccation, disc bulges,
endplate osteophytes, and arthopathy, all of which were
chronic degenerative findings. There was protruding disc
material at C5-6 with no associated high signal around it to
suggest an acute herniation and lateral recess narrowing
which was secondary to degenerative disc disease and
decision dated June 30, 2016, the Office of Judges reversed
the claims administrator's decision and added cervical
sprain/strain to the claim. The Office of Judges found that
while Ms. Sprinkle did not initially report neck pain, she
did start experiencing symptoms and reported neck pain to Mr.
Guida on April 9, 2015. Mr. Guida diagnosed a cervical strain
and upper extremity diagnoses. He noted that Ms. Sprinkle was
having cervical spasms and opined that all of her symptoms
were related to the compensable injury. The Office of Judges
noted that Ms. Sprinkle's neck symptoms were documented
as early as the beginning of April of 2015, a mere few weeks
after her compensable injury. The Office of Judges noted that
the EMG/nerve conduction study revealed degenerative
conditions, demonstrating that Ms. Sprinkle had preexisting
problems not likely stemming from the recent injury. The
cervical MRI also revealed degenerative conditions that were
not related to the compensable injury. However, Ms. Sprinkle
was not attempting to have these degenerative conditions
added to the claim. Rather, the Office of Judges noted that
she was only seeking to have cervical sprain and cervical
radiculopathy added to the claim. The Office of Judges
concluded that the evidence supported finding that a cervical
injury occurred on March 19, 2015, as it was only a few weeks
later that Ms. Sprinkle began reporting symptoms. While Ms.
Sprinkle had some pre-existing degenerative conditions in her
neck, it did not preclude finding that she suffered a
cervical sprain in the course of and as a result of her
Office of Judges determined that the diagnosis of cervical
radiculopathy was more likely related to Ms. Sprinkle's
pre-existing conditions rather than the compensable injury.
The Office of Judges relied on the EMG and nerve conduction
study, which showed chronic left multilevel cervical
radiculopathies versus left brachial plexopathy and bilateral
mild median neuropathies at the wrists and found that
cervical radiculopathy pre-existed the compensable injury.
Additionally, the Office of Judges noted that the cervical
MRI also revealed degenerative disc disease, arthropathy,
disc bulges, and other degenerative conditions that would be
more likely to have caused Ms. Sprinkle's radiculopathy
than a simple cervical sprain. Thus, the Office of Judges
concluded that while Ms. Sprinkle does suffer from cervical
radiculopathy, it is not compensable because it was not
received in the course of and as a result of her employment.
the Office of Judges reversed the claims administrator's
decision denying a cervical MRI and authorized the request.
The Office of Judges noted that although Ms. Sprinkle had
undergone a cervical MRI outside of the claim, it did not bar
her from requesting that the treatment be covered under the
claim. The Office of Judges reviewed the medical reports of
Dr. Varga and Mr. Guida and based upon their opinions,
determined that further investigation of the cervical
symptoms was warranted. As the cervical MRI was reasonable
and necessary medical treatment in the claim at the time it
was requested, the Office of Judges found that it should have
been authorized. The Board of Review adopted the findings of
fact and conclusions of law of the Office of Judges and
affirmed its Order on February 17, 2017.
appeal, Ms. Sprinkle requests that the condition of cervical
radiculopathy be added as a compensable condition in this
claim. After review, we agree with findings of fact and
conclusions of law of the Office of Judges as affirmed by the
Board of Review. The medical evidence of record indicates
that Ms. Sprinkle did sustain a cervical sprain/strain in the
course of and as a result of her employment. However,
extensive testing has revealed that Ms. Sprinkle suffers from
a variety of degenerative conditions that ...