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Armenta v. PCC Structural, Inc.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-05-2012
Case #: A141790
Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega, P. J.; and Hadlock, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A141790.pdf

Workers Compensation: A misinterpretation and lack of consideration of a doctor's expert testimony is grounds for reversal of a decision of the Workers' Compensation Board.

Armenta appealed a Workers' Compensation Board (Board) decision in which he was denied workers' compensation benefits. He worked in a metal fabrication plant which required him to do heavy lifting and other strenuous physical tasks. Armenta's employer referred him to a Dr. Rabie for diagnosis of a back problem he had developed. Dr. Rabie's report diagnosed the back problem as lumbar radiculopathy. He claimed the injury was due to an underlying degenerative disk disease and was not a work related injury. Armenta received a second opinion from a Dr. Gritzka. Dr. Gritzka's report was offered and admitted as a rebuttal to Dr. Rabie's report because it contained information indicating the injury was due to work activities. However, his report did not explicitly address lumbar radiculopathy. He instead referred to the injury as a "nerve root condition." The Board refused to consider the report because it did not explicitly address lumbar radiculopathy. The Court of Appeals held that "nerve root condition" and lumbar radiculopathy are different terms describing the same condition. The Board erred by misinterpreting Dr. Gritzka's diagnosis of the condition and the report should have been considered as rebuttal evidence. Reversed and remanded.