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Vigor Industrial, LLC v. Ayres

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 08-07-2013
Case #: A149855
Hadlock, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A149855.pdf

Workers Compensation: A "combined condition" is compensable only if the otherwise compensable injury is the major contributing cause of the combined condition disability or the major contributing cause of the need for treatment of the combined condition as compared to the contributions from the preexisting conditions.

Employer petitioned for judicial review of a Workers' Compensation Board (Board) decision. Claimant suffered a foot injury after falling at work, and was awarded a claim. One year later, Claimant filed a claim for two new foot conditions after receiving additional medical evaluations. Employer denied the new claims because it was deemed a "combined condition."  Claimant was granted an administrative hearing and an ALJ decided that Employer had not met its burden of proving that Claimant's "otherwise compensable injury" was no longer the major contributing cause of his disability and need for treatment of the combined condition.  The ALJ found that under ORS 656.005(24)(a), because the two foot conditions were never diagnosed or treated prior to the compensable foot injury, neither were considered "preexisting conditions," and therefore set aside the denial of the claim.  Employer sought review before the Board, arguing that the comparison should be the work injury against all other contributing disabilities, not just "preexisting conditions."  Employer argued that the Board should determine whether Claimant's work injury remained the major contributing cause of the disability and need for treatment when compared to the contributions from both of Claimant's conditions.  The Board found in favor of Claimant and Employer appealed.  The Court held that ORS 656.005(7) outlines that a "combined condition" consists only of the "otherwise compensable injury" and any statutory preexisting conditions. Additionally, a "combined condition" is compensable only if the otherwise compensable injury is the major contributing cause of the disability or the major contributing cause of the need for treatment of the combined condition as compared to the contributions from the preexisting conditions.  Affirmed.