Appeal No. 2052843) (Claim No. 2018014744)
United Parcel Service, Inc., by Jeffrey B. Brannon, its
attorney, appeals the decision of the West Virginia
Workers' Compensation Board of Review.
issue on appeal is compensability. The claims administrator
rejected the claim on December 28, 2017. The Office of Judges
reversed the decision in its April 2, 2018, Order and held
the claim compensable for contusion of the buttocks. The
Order was modified by the Board of Review on July 20, 2018,
and the compensable condition was determined to be bursitis
of the right hip.
Court has carefully reviewed the records, written arguments,
and appendices contained in the briefs, and the case is
mature for consideration. 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
Hannah, a delivery driver, alleges that he injured his
buttocks and hip while driving his delivery van. United
Parcel Services, Inc., Driver Vehicle Inspection reports from
December 4, 2017, and December 8, 2017, indicate Mr. Hannah
twice reported that his seat needed replaced because it had
no cushion left. In a series of text messages dated December
12, 2017, Mr. Hannah wrote to an unnamed person that the seat
in his truck was worn out and that he was hitting metal. He
stated that his buttocks were sore all day when he drove it
and that he had the truck for two weeks. The unidentified
respondent stated that they spoke to Dave Williams, who was
contacting the mechanic's supervisor to have the mechanic
look at the seat that evening. In undated text messages, an
unidentified person stated that he had shown the pictures to
an automotive manager who stated that the seat looked normal.
The seat was going to be reviewed again by the mechanics, but
there was no guarantee it would be replaced.
Hannah sought treatment on December 14, 2017, and was seen by
William Dalton, M.D., at MedExpress. The treatment note
indicates Mr. Hannah reported joint pain and a right thigh
injury that had been present for a week and a half. He stated
that he had no cushion and was sitting on a metal seat for
over a week. The diagnosis was other bursitis of the right
hip, and Mr. Hannah was placed on modified duty. He was
treated by Bria Hull, FNP, BC, four days later, and she
diagnosed lumbago with sciatica. Mr. Hannah's symptoms
were believed to be due to sciatica on the right. He was
given exercises and told to rest. The claims administrator
rejected the claim on December 28, 2017.
Mukkamala, M.D., performed a record review on February 27,
2018, in which he opined that there was no credible,
objective medical evidence that Mr. Hannah sustained an
injury on or around December 13, 2017. Dr. Mukkamala further
opined that the diagnosis by Dr. Dalton was unsupported. He
stated that Mr. Hannah reported nonspecific complaints of
pain and that there was no credible evidence he sustained an
Soulsby, M.D., performed a record review on February 27,
2018, in which he opined that ischial tuberitis is not a
known diagnosis. He stated that ischial bursitis is caused by
excessive or inappropriate physical exercise or prolonged
sitting. The condition is rare and causes pain in the buttock
and usually a soft tissue mass. Dr. Soulsby opined that there
was no justification for a diagnosis of sciatica in this
case. He also opined that Mr. Hannah did not suffer from
ischial bursitis since there was no soft tissue mass present
in the buttocks. He stated that at most, Mr. Hannah could
have suffered tenderness or a contusion to the buttocks.
However, he opined that the condition would not require
medical intervention. He concluded that the medical records
failed to support an injury related to Mr. Hannah's work
that would be severe enough to warrant medical attention.
Hannah testified in a hearing before the Office of Judges on
March 9, 2018, that he had no preexisting problems with
either his buttocks or low back. He stated that his seat was
not replaced until December 13, 2017, after he was no longer
able to work due to his injury. He asserted that the new seat
is twice the size of the old one. Mr. Hannah testified that
he reported that he needed a new seat twice and then told
human resources about the problem. He stated that when he was
driving, his buttocks would hit the bottom of the seat, which
caused pain in his buttocks and sciatic nerve.
Office of Judges reversed the claims administrator's
rejection of the claim in its April 2, 2018, decision and
held the claim compensable for contusion of the buttocks. It
found that there was no medical report directly opining that
Mr. Hannah sustained a work-related injury. The attending
physician's report diagnosed ischial tuberitis/bursitis
and a comment stated that Mr. Hannah's seat needed to be
replaced. However, the report did not state that a
work-related injury occurred. The Office of Judges found Dr.
Soulsby's opinion that ischial tuberitis is not a known
diagnosis to be persuasive. It also found that the reports of
record fail to provide a consistent diagnosis. Dr. Soulsby
opined that a contusion could have occurred with the
mechanism of injury and would be consistent with Mr.
Hannah's symptoms. The Office of Judges concluded that a
contusion is the most probable diagnosis.
Office of Judges next found that in Pittman v. Fola Coal
Company and Greenbrier Smokeless Coal Mining, LLC, No.
13-1130 (W.Va. Dec. 2, 2014) (memorandum decision), this
Court held that the claimant's testimony was sufficient
to provide a causal connection between his work and his
medical condition. In that case, the only medical evidence of
record merely stated that the cause of the condition was
unknown. The Office of Judges found in the case at bar that
Mr. Hannah's testimony and the facts surrounding his
alleged injury are sufficient to show that he suffered a
compensable injury. The Office of Judges noted that he drove
a utilitarian van ten hours a day which required him to
bounce up and down on a seat that had insufficient padding.
Further, he reported the injury and sought medical treatment.
The Office of Judges therefore held the claim compensable for
contusion of the buttocks.
Board of Review modified the Office of Judges' Order and
held the claim compensable for bursitis of the right hip in
its July 20, 2018, decision. It found that the medical
providers who examined Mr. Hannah did not diagnose contusion
of the buttocks. He was initially treated by Dr. Dalton at
MedExpress and was diagnosed with bursitis of the right hip.
Dr. Dalton stated that Mr. Hannah was to avoid sitting on
hard surfaces for prolonged times and that his seat needed
replaced. Mr. Hannah was also seen by Nurse Hall on December
18, 2017, and was diagnosed with lumbago with sciatica;
however, she failed to address causation of the condition.
The Board of Review therefore concluded that the claim should
be held compensable for bursitis of the right hip.
review, we agree with the reasoning and conclusions of the
Board of Review. The treating physician at MedExpress, Dr.
Dalton, examined Mr. Hannah, considered the mechanism of
injury, and diagnosed right hip bursitis as a result of
driving a vehicle with an improperly padded seat. The Board
of Review was correct to modify the Office of Judges'
Order and find that the proper diagnosis was bursitis since
no physician of record that examined Mr. Hannah diagnosed
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 ...