JOEY D. MORGAN, Claimant Below, Petitioner
EASTERN VAULT COMPANY, INC., Employer Below, Respondent
Appeal No. 2051954, Claim No. 2016027825.
Joey D. Morgan, by Gregory Prudich, his attorney, appeals the
decision of the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Board
of Review. Eastern Vault Company, Inc., by Jillian Moore, its
attorney, filed a timely response.
issue on appeal is the compensability of the claim. On May
19, 2016, the claims administrator rejected the claim as
there were sufficient inconsistencies and contradictions to
conclude that Mr. Morgan did not sustain an injury in the
course of and as a result of his employment on March 16,
2016. The Workers' Compensation Office of Judges affirmed
the claims administrator's decision in an Order dated
April 24, 2017. This appeal arises from the Board of
Review's Final Order dated September 29, 2017, in which
the Board 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
Morgan alleged that he injured his knee on March 16, 2016,
while tying rebar in a box form. He reported that he slipped
and twisted his knee. He sought treatment on March 17, 2016,
and reported to James Morgan, M.D., with Med Express in
Princeton, West Virginia, that he had been experiencing pain
and swelling for three days. Mr. Morgan denied that any
injury occurred, and reported that his knee pain began
gradually and was intermittent.
March 22, 2016, Mr. Morgan sought treatment for knee pain in
the emergency room at Princeton Community Hospital. Again,
Mr. Morgan denied that he suffered any type of injury.
Princeton Community Hospital records from March 22, 2016, to
April 27, 2016, indicate that Mr. Morgan reported that his
right knee pain was about one month in duration. A radiology
report noted increased density and swelling of the
prepatellar and infrapatellar soft tissue. Mr. Morgan was
told he could return to work on April 25, 2016.
Morgan sought treatment with Deborah Croy, ANP-BC, on March
29, 2016. He reported suffering pain in his right knee for
three weeks. Again, he did not report a specific injury to
Morgan was evaluated by Nancy Davidson, FNP, on April 4,
2016. Mr. Morgan reported having knee pain for three weeks,
with no apparent mechanism of injury. Mr. Morgan was advised
to limit standing for prolonged periods of time, and to
elevate his knee when possible.
April 13, 2016, an MRI report from Community Radiology
revealed that Mr. Morgan had early osteoarthritis; tears of
the anterior horn, posterior horn, and body of the lateral
meniscus; multiple meniscal cysts contiguous with the
anterior horn of the lateral meniscus; joint effusion;
pre-patellar bursitis; synovial cyst continuous with the
joint space posterior to the medial femoral condyle; and
spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee/insufficiency fracture
involving the medial femoral condyle.
Morgan returned to the emergency room at Princeton Community
Hospital on April 20, 2016. He reported that he had been
suffering knee pain for the past month. He once again denied
that he had been injured. Mr. Morgan stated that his knee
popped on April 19, 2016, which caused increased pain.
April 25, 2016, Mr. Morgan gave notice to the employer of an
occupational injury. It was noted that Mr. Morgan worked
through April 18, 2016. The employer questioned the injury
because Mr. Morgan failed to report a work-related injury.
Instead, Mr. Morgan sought treatment under his private
Thaxton, M.D., issued a Physician's Review report on May
17, 2016. Dr. Thaxton examined whether the medical evidence
supported that a work-related injury occurred on March 16,
2016. Dr. Thaxton noted that the first medical evidence in
the claim was a March 17, 2016, report from MedExpress when
Mr. Morgan complained of right knee pain and swelling for
three days without a known injury. He was seen again at
Princeton Community Hospital on March 22, 2016, where he
again denied an injury, and complained of increased knee pain
and swelling. Mr. Morgan was again seen at Princeton
Community Hospital on April 20, 2016, when he once again
denied that an injury had occurred and stated that his knee
had been hurting for one-and-a-half months, but that it
popped the day before. An April 13, 2016, MRI revealed
degenerative findings. Dr. Thaxton noted that Mr.
Morgan's first report of injury form dated April 27,
2016, listed the date of injury as March 17, 2016. The
physician's report signed on April 27, 2016, indicated
that was the first day of initial treatment and that the work
injury was reported as "knee popped while
squatting." An employer's First Report of Injury
form dated April 26, 2016, stated that Mr. Morgan hit his
knee while on his knees tying rebar. Dr. Thaxton noted the
inconsistencies in the record and concluded that the record
does not support that Mr. Morgan suffered a work-related
injury. Dr. Thaxton advised that Mr. Morgan denied an injury
had occurred and then gave different accounts of a mechanism
of injury. Also, Dr. Thaxton reasoned that the MRI findings
were degenerative and did not appear to support the position
that an acute injury had occurred.
19, 2016, the claims administrator rejected Mr. Morgan's
claim for benefits. The claims administrator rejected the
claim because there were sufficient inconsistencies and
contradictions to conclude that Mr. Morgan did not sustain an
injury in the course of and resulting from his employment.
Mr. Morgan protested the claims administrator's Order.
September 22, 2016, deposition, Mr. Morgan described his job
at Eastern Vault Company, where he worked as a carpenter. He
stated that he twisted his knee on March 16, 2016, while
tying bands in a box form. Mr. Morgan testified that Kenny
Pilkins witnessed the incident. He finished his shift and was
afraid to report the injury because he feared losing his job.
He also testified that at the time of the alleged injury, he
had recently returned to his employment after being off work
for six-months while he recovered from a prior compensable
injury. He testified that he filed his workers'
compensation claim for his knee after receiving the ...