Survey of Recent Work Comp Decisisons – Back Injuries with Surgery and Return to Job

Cozad v. Russell Corporation; File Number 5015753 (7/26/12): 41 yr. old high school graduate with some community college classes; prior work experience includes food service, road construction, press operator, clerical, telemarketer, and factory work;  began working for Russell in 1998; has pre-existing back injuries but 2004 back injury includes consistent pain and a “popping” of the back after kneeling down; in 2004, Claimant reinjured her back by kneeling down, which affected her right leg and buttocks; did not undergo surgery in 2004; returned to work with no restrictions; volunteered for layoff shortly thereafter; Claimant was seen by orthopedic physician, Dr. Palit, who opined work injury aggravated preexisting back condition; Claimant’s IME physician, Dr. Boulden, gave no rating but opined that she is incapable and probably was incapable of doing the work at Russell; Unemployment due to volunteer layoff lasted 1.5 years; returned to work at employer’s request and quit two days later; underwent surgery in February 2006 by Dr. Nelson who opined that although Cozad had pre-existing conditions, the injury could be attributable to the work; No ratings were given by any doctors; Commissioner Godfrey ruled in remand decision that he agreed with Dr. Palit’s opinion and issued 100% industrial disability.
Gries v. Sioux Dairy Equipment; File Number 5030632 (7/30/12): 43 year old high school graduate with a certification in computer-aided drafting; prior work experience includes electrical apprentice, restaurant services, line press operator, flooring services, cashier, line supervisor, meat cutter, concrete laborer, press operator, production line inspector, CNC operation programming and drafting, robotic technician; Claimant has a severe history of mental health issues; began working for Sioux Dairy in 2000; injured himself falling from a ladder landing on his back; Claimant saw his primary physician who opined an acute traumatic injury to neck and back which has since been resolved; continued to work for that time; Claimant had further complaints three months later and was seen by neurosurgeon, Dr. Suga, who recommended conservative treatment; Claimant received a second opinion from Dr. Asfora who performed surgery in July 2001; by early October 2001, Claimant appeared to be doing great; mid-October 2011, Claimant was involved in a motor vehicle accident and injured his head, Claimant tried to relate some injuries from this to work injury; evaluated by Dr. Luther who assigned medical restrictions and an 8% whole person rating; Dr. Luther found Claimant at MMI by April 2004; issues regarding healing period benefits arose but were considered to be Feb 2001 thru April 2004; Deputy Pohlman found Claimant not credible as a witness but still found 60% industrial disability as a result of the initial work injury. 
 Montealegre v. JBS Distribution; File Number 5037207 (07/27/12): 42 year old originally from Guatemala with 12 years education there; Claimant understands basic English but his primary language is Spanish; he came to the U.S. in 1988; prior work experience includes production assembly, truck driving, and working in a packing plant; began working for JBS in 2009; in February 2009, Claimant injured back while lifting a hog on top of a work table; treating physician was Dr. Mooney, who provided Claimant with an epidural steroid injection and referred him to Dr. Carlstrom, a neurosurgeon; Dr. Carlstrom performed surgery two months after injury and placed him at MMI in August 2011;  Dr. Carlstrom opined a 10% body as a whole permanent partial impairment and placed Claimant on restrictions; Claimant continued to have low back pain that radiated into left foot which also caused numbness in left arm and face; restrictions were lifted by November 2011 but imposed again in January 2012; by February 2012, Dr. Carlstrom indicated he had no further treatment but limited the restrictions even more to no more than 40 hours a week on level floors, also indicated could not work same position that he was at; his pay has gone down because of the restrictions and new position; Deputy Pohlman found a 60% industrial disability due to a significant permanent impairment and substantial work restrictions.
 Petit v. Iowa Jewish Senior Life Center; File Number 5037628 (10/26/12): Claimant’s age and prior work history were not noted; Claimant worked for defendant from July 2009 thru September 2011 as a CNA; stipulated work injury occurred in September 2010 through an onset of low back and leg pain while lifting a resident; significant prior medical history of back problems including back surgery in March 2010; Claimant states a full recovery after surgery and no more problems until the injury; initial physician, Dr. Nelson, performed surgery March 2011 and returned Claimant to restricted duty work; Dr. Nelson provided an 11% impairment to the body as a whole by January 2012 and released Claimant to return to work without restrictions; Drs. Troll and Rettenmaier diagnosed Claimant with chronic pain syndrome and have opined Claimant is medically incapable of gainful employment; Dr. Troll relates this to her work injury; Deputy Walshire found the September 2011 injury to be work-related causing a 100% industrial disability.
 Gray v. Frontier Communications; File Numbers 5038148; 5038595 (10/15/12): 37 year old high school graduate; prior work experience includes electronics distributors, telephone and telecommunication companies; Claimant began working for Frontier in 2006 as a sales/service technician; injured his lower back after slipping in August 2010; underwent surgery October 2010 by Dr. Johnson; returned to full duty work by November 2010; Dr. Johnson found 10% permanent impairment to the body as a whole regarding the August 2010 injury and placed Claimant at MMI by November 24, 2010; in December 2010, Claimant felt a ‘pull’ in his lower back and returned to Dr. Johnson by January 2011; underwent second surgery in February 2011; underwent physical therapy and was returned to work by April 2011; Dr. Johnson found Claimant at MMI by May 2011 and returned to work at full duty; by June 2011, Dr. Johnson found 13% permanent impairment to the body as whole; claimant’s IME, Dr. Martin, found 18% permanent impairment to the body as a whole and did not assign permanent restrictions; Dr. Martin placed Claimant at MMI by September 2011; Claimant takes several prescription medications for pain; regarding the August 2010 injury, Deputy Christenson found a 10% industrial disability; regarding the December 2010 injury, Deputy Christenson agreed with Dr. Martin and found a 20% industrial disability.

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