In Charles Deutmeyer v. Innovative Ag Services Co., File No. 5066077 (Arb. Dec. March 12, 2020), the Deputy Commissioner found that Claimant failed to prove the accepted work injury caused Claimant’s right shoulder condition and the need for surgical intervention. The Claimant had a long-standing history with right shoulder problems including a right shoulder injury in the past. Approximately one year before the work injury, Claimant sought medical treatment for the right shoulder. He reported that he had on-going right shoulder symptoms for the past 15 years and that he knew that he had a rotator cuff tear for a long time. Just months before the alleged work injury, the Claimant sought medical care for his shoulder due to chronic pain. However, he did not want to undergo surgical intervention at that time. Following the work injury, Claimant underwent an MRI that revealed a large full-thickness rotator cuff tear.
Claimant was seen by a surgeon who opined that Claimant had an acute aggravation caused by the work injury that significantly aggravated his underlying right shoulder problem. Therefore, the surgeon recommended and performed surgical repair of the rotator cuff tear. It was found that Claimant was not completely forthright with the surgeon regarding his past right shoulder conditions. The surgeon indicated post-surgery that he was not fully aware of the Claimant’s pre-existing right shoulder problems. Therefore, the treating surgeon opined that the work injury was not the cause of Claimant’s massive rotator cuff tear.
The presiding Deputy Commissioner found that Claimant failed to prove that the stipulated work injury resulted in permanent injury. As a result, the Deputy Commissioner found that Claimant failed to prove that he was entitled to any permanent disability benefits. Further the Deputy Commissioner found that Claimant’s right shoulder surgery was not related to the work injury and, therefore, Claimant failed to establish the necessary proof that he was entitled to reimbursement of a large portion of his medical bills.