Appeal No. 2052250 Claim No. 2014032272
CCBCC, Inc., by James W. Heslep, its attorney, appeals the
decision of the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Board
of Review. Kendal T. Creppel, by Stephen P. New and Stacey L.
Fragile, his attorneys, filed a timely response.
issue on appeal is compensability. The claims administrator
rejected the claim on June 16, 2014. The Office of Judges
reversed the decision in its September 22, 2017, Order and
held the claim compensable for carpal and cubital tunnel
syndromes. The Order was affirmed by the Board of Review on
January 31, 2018. 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
Creppel, a warehouse worker, alleges that he developed carpal
tunnel and cubital tunnel syndrome as a result of his job
duties. An April 30, 2014, treatment note by Florencio Neri,
M.D., indicates Mr. Creppel reported bilateral hand pain. Dr.
Neri noted that there was no injury and that occupationally
related wrist motions may be a factor. He diagnosed carpal
Creppel completed an employee's and physician's
report of injury on May 1, 2014, He alleged that his duties
as a warehouse man, specifically repetitive lifting, caused
him to develop bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. The
physician's section lists the diagnosis as carpal tunnel
syndrome, and it was indicated that the condition was
occupationally related. It was signed by an employee of Dr.
telephone deposition on May 2, 2014, Mr. Creppel stated that
he started working for the employer in October of 2004 at the
Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Bluefield, WV. His job duties
included building bulk and loading trucks. He had to lift
cases of soda and load it onto a pallet. He also drove a
forklift which required him to operate a small steering wheel
and bothered his hands. Mr. Creppel stated that he has pain
and numbness in his hands as well as knots on both wrists.
The symptoms began five to six months ago. He denied any
prior wrist problems.
28, 2014, Dr. Neri noted that Mr. Creppel's condition had
worsened and was presently causing moderate symptoms. He
noted that aggravating factors included heavy lifting. Mr.
Creppel was to continue using splints and an EMG/NCS was
ordered. The EMG/NCS revealed mild bilateral median
neuropathy at the wrists and mild bilateral ulnar neuropathy
at the elbows. Mr. Creppel returned to Dr. Neri on January 9,
2015, and Dr. Neri noted that his symptoms had been
progressively worsening. Aggravating factors included heavy
lifting, and Mr. Creppel was experiencing symptoms several
times a day.
Creppel saw orthopedic surgeon, Robert Kropac, M.D., on
January 14, 2015. Dr. Kropac stated that Mr. Creppel reported
numbness and tingling in both hands for over a year. His work
required heavy lifting, pulling, and pushing. Dr. Kropac
noted that the EMG/NCS showed bilateral carpal and cubital
tunnel syndromes. Dr. Kropac diagnosed mild bilateral carpal
tunnel syndrome and bilateral cubital tunnel syndrome. He
recommended the use of braces. On June 2, 2015, Dr. Kropac
noted that Mr. Creppel's symptoms had worsened upon his
return to work. His main complaint was numbness and tingling
caused by heavy lifting, pulling, and gripping. He also
reported being awakened at night by his symptoms, dropping
things, and having difficulty with fine motor skills.
18, 2015, Mr. Creppel was treated by Syed Ahmad, M.D., whose
treatment note indicates Mr. Creppel reported several
problems including lupus, neck pain, back pain, numbness of
the hands and feet, and diagnoses of carpal and cubital
tunnel syndrome. Dr. Ahmad recommended wrist splints and
elbow pads and stated that Mr. Creppel should consider
Kropac testified in a deposition on April 13, 2016. He stated
that he had been treating Mr. Creppel since 2002 or 2003. Mr.
Creppel had mild carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes, though
the carpal tunnel syndrome produced the most symptoms.
Surgery was not recommended at that time. Dr. Kropac opined
that the cubital and carpal tunnel syndromes are likely
caused by his work duties including heavy lifting, pushing,
claims administrator rejected the claim on June 16, 2014. The
Office of Judges reversed the decision on September 22, 2017,
and held the claim compensable for bilateral carpal tunnel
syndrome and bilateral cubital tunnel syndrome. It found that
though no closing arguments were submitted, the employer
submitted two articles on the possible link between lupus and
carpal tunnel syndrome. The Office of Judges found that there
were two opinions of record, the report of injury and Dr.
Kropac's opinion, that state that Mr. Creppel's
carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes are the result of his
work activities. Though the signature on the report of injury
is illegible, it was signed by an employee of Dr. Neri's
office. Further, and more significant, Dr. Kropac's
deposition indicated that he is a board certified orthopedic
surgeon who has treated Mr. Creppel since 2002 or 2003. The
Office of Judges found that he therefore had a longtime
professional relationship with Mr. Creppel and was familiar
with his work activities. Dr. Kropac testified that, to a
reasonable degree of medical certainty, Mr. Creppel's
carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes are occupationally
related. The Office of Judges further noted that though the
employer introduced two articles discussing the relationship
between lupus and carpal tunnel syndrome, Dr. Kropac was not
asked about his opinion regarding the causal link between the
two. Further, no medical professional of record discussed the
possible connection between the conditions. In fact, there is
no medical opinion of record directly disagreeing with the
opinions of Drs. Neri and Kropac that Mr. Creppel's
carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome are the result of his work
duties. The Board of Review adopted the findings of fact and
conclusions of law of the Office of Judges and affirmed its
Order on January 31, 2018.
review, we agree with the reasoning and conclusions of the
Office of Judges as affirmed by the Board of review. The
evidence indicates that Mr. Creppel's job duties include
repetitive heavy lifting, pushing, and pulling. An EMG/NCS
showed both carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes, and Drs.
Neri and Kropac opined that the conditions were
occupationally related. A preponderance of the evidence
supports the Board of Review's decision.
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 ...