Occupational Disease: Disease

Mosca v. American Home Assurance [2/13/04] 2004 MTWCC 6 Where claimant's job involved hard labor and only upon retrospection did he remember events on a single day that might have caused his herniated disk, and where the evidence and medical opinions indicated his herniated disk arose on account of job activities but diverges as to whether his condition arose as a result of events on a single day or over a longer period of time, the Court finds evidence of a cumulative, multiple trauma over more than one day the more plausible explanation and finds that claimant suffered an occupational disease rather than an injury.
Mosca v. American Home Assurance [2/13/04] 2004 MTWCC 6 Where the only medical evidence was that claimant suffered an injury or occupational disease, the Court must choose between the two.
Fuss v. Ins. Co. of North America and Valor Ins. Co., Inc. [11/25/03] 2003 MTWCC 68 Liability for an occupational disease extends only to the disease and conditions and sequella that are caused and related to the occupational disease.
Oswald v. Horizon CMS Healthcare Corp. [3/10/03] 2003 MTWCC 19 Where the evidence indicates a single incident caused claimant's condition, the occupational disease definition is not met and that doesn't change even though claimant may not be able to identify the specific incident or time.
Oswald v. Horizon CMS Healthcare Corp. [12/5/02] 2002 MTCC 62 While the Court was persuaded the former nurse's aide who was exposed to bodily fluids and blood of patients, frequently with open cuts on her hands and not wearing gloves, acquired Hepatitis C through contact with a patient's blood or bodily fluids, her occupational disease claim is denied where uncontroverted medical evidence established Hepatitis C is acquired through a single exposure.
MacNeeley v. Everest National [6/12/02] 2002 MTWCC 35 Where claimant's degenerative wrist condition is the result of repetitive tasks as a carpenter, he suffers from an occupational disease.
Hanks v. Liberty Northwest [3/22/02] 2002 MTWCC 19 A single incident on a single day which aggravates or makes symptomatic an underlying non-occupational disease is an injury and not an occupational disease. An occupational disease requires that the harm be caused by events occurring on more than one day. 39-71-119 and 39-72-102(10), MCA (1999). (Affirmed in Hanks v. Liberty Northwest, 2002 MT 334.)
Hanks v. Liberty Northwest [3/22/02] 2002 MTWCC 19 To establish an occupational disease, the claimant must provide medical evidence that her disease is caused at least in part by her work. (Affirmed in Hanks v. Liberty Northwest 2002 MT 334.)
Watkins v. State Fund [2/22/02] 2002 MTWCC 11 Where claimant presented no medical testimony that he suffered from an occupational disease proximately causing his condition, his occupational disease claim must fail.
Liberty Mutual v. Griner [11/09/01] 2001 MTWCC 58 Heavy labor, which over a period of time causes harm, constitutes an occupational disease. § 39-72-102(10) (1997).
Messitte v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. [8/30/01] 2001 MTWCC 51 Claimant suffering from muscle ailment beginning with lifting heavy items during waitressing work ten years prior was entitled to continued medical services from her treating physician, and prescribed medicines, but not to massage and health club membership. Where the Court credits claimant's testimony, supported by the medical record, that she suffers from the same muscle ailment that began during employment, it is not necessary to resolve whether fibromyalgia is a proper diagnosis or to judge debates in the medical community regarding fibromyalgia.
Romero v. Liberty Mutual & State Fund [1/29/01] 2001 MTWCC 5 Where condition develops over a period of years as a natural progression and result of an earlier workers' compensation injury, it does not constitute an occupational disease even though part of the progression occurred during subsequent employment. [Note: The Supreme Court affirmed the WCC decision in Romero v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co., 2001 MT 303N (a non-citeable decision.)]
Corcoran v. Montana Schools Group Insurance Authority [5/23/00] 2000 MTWCC 30 Under 39-72-403, MCA (1995), which requires a written claim within one year from the date "the claimant knew or should have known that the claimant's condition resulted from an occupational disease," awareness of pain, and awareness that the pain is a result of work, does not constitute knowledge that one suffers from an "occupational disease," as defined in 39-72-102(10), MCA (1995-1999). The key words in the section are "harm" and "damage," meaning something more significant than suffering pain after a hard days' work. The limitations period commences when the worker has some specific knowledge of a specific pathological condition stemming from employment and requiring diagnosis or treatment.
Weatherwax v. State Compensation Insurance Fund [3/22/00] 2000 MTWCC 15 Court found injury, not occupational disease, where claimant proved "accident" on single day in accordance with section 39-71-407(2), MCA (1991) by proving his pre-existing back condition materially worsened on and after single day's work of lifting and moving cabinets, even though he could not identify a single, specific incident of lifting that caused worsening.
Liberty Northwest Insurance Company v. Michael Stolz [11/9/99] 1999 MTWCC 71While the insurer's counsel's questioning tried to make it appear that claimant's pain resulted from one incident, a complete reading of claimant's testimony shows that while there may have been one day on which claimant began experiencing pain, it was not associated with a specific event or incident. Physician's testimony suggests it is more probable that lifting over several days led to the condition, making it an occupational disease.
Branch v. Liberty Northwest Insurance Co. [9/27/99] 1999 MTWCC 57 Motel housekeeper filed claim for injury but credible evidence indicated her cervical disk condition arose over two week period due to lifting heavy laundry, not from any accident causing sudden onset. Although claimant had not filed an occupational disease claim, and no occupational disease examination had been conducted, the parties waived their rights to a medical panel examination and stipulated that the Court may determine whether she suffered an injury or occupational disease.
McKay, Sr. v. City of Choteau [3/4/99] 1999 MTWCC 20 Police officer appealed Department of Labor hearing officer's decision he did not suffer from occupational disease resulting from alleged exposure to carbon monoxide in patrol car. Substantial evidence supports the hearing officer's determination, including the decision to credit the conclusions of the physician with specific expertise in carbon monoxide poisoning over those of other physicians. Further, the weight of additional evidence sides with the hearing officer's determination.
Jacobs v. Liberty Northwest Ins. [9/25/98] 1998 MTWCC 68 While claimant proved that electrician work for his employer caused a temporary exacerbation of preexisting shoulder and left limb problems, he did not prove injury on a single day or work shift. His petition for a compensable injury is dismissed, but the WCC notes the insurer is obligated to adjust his claim under the Occupational Disease Act where elements of an OD have been proven.
Bowers v. State Fund [9/2/98] 1998 MTWCC 64 DOL hearing officer erred by failing to determine whether alleged occupational exposure to chemicals and dust contributed to any degree to his death. The hearing officer, as well as panel doctors, should have considered whether occupational factors were a contribution as even a small percentage of contribution would entitle widow to compensation proportionate to the contribution.
Steven K. Burglund v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co., 286 Mont. 134, 950 P.2d 1371 (1997) Supreme Court affirmed WCC determination that cause of claimant's current back-related disability was 1984 injury and not occupational disease insurer claimed arose after claimant returned to work. Claimant met his burden of establishing a clear connection between his current condition and the 1984 injury through physician's testimony. Insurer did not prove causation through occupational disease where doctor could not determine with any precision what effect claimant's resumed work had on his condition, testified claimant's low back condition would have deteriorated even if he had not resumed his UPS duties, and testified that post-injury work was not a substantial cause of the degeneration.
Burglund v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. [8/29/96] 1996 MTWCC 60 UPS driver and insurer disputed whether claimant's current disability was result of 1984 back injury and following surgery or occupational disease resulting from claimant's return to work. Based on medical testimony, Court found condition was result of earlier injury. Physician's testimony left no doubt that claimant's 1991 surgery, and thus his 1984 injury, are substantial and material factors in claimant's current disability. WCC was persuaded claimant's continued employment may have hastened the degenerative process, but was not persuaded it substantially or materially did so. Most importantly, physician testified that even had claimant not returned to a labor intensive job, his degenerative condition would have ultimately progressed and that the current condition is consistent with a natural progression of the underlying condition. (Note: WCC decision affirmed by Supreme Court in Steven K. Burglund v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co., 286 Mont. 134, 950 P.2d 1371 (1997).)