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SAIF v. Walker

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-26-2013
Case #: A150552
Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Hadlcock, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A150552.pdf

Workers Compensation: In a Workers' Compensation action, the reviewing Court will not reweigh the evidence or choose sides among members of the board who initially reviewed the claim. A reversal of the board's decision will only occur when the credible evidence apparently weighs overwhelmingly in favor of one finding and the board finds the other without giving a persuasive explanation.

The Employer and SAIF sought judicial review of an order of the Workers' Compensation Board (“Board”) that determined that Employee's pre-existing L4-5 disc herniation was a consequential condition because a subsequent injury to Employee's left foot was a major contributing cause of that condition. Employee fell off a truck and hit his back before he worked for Employer. An MRI revealed that a 4-5 mm disc protrusion and slight mass effect on the L5 nerve root. In 2006, while working for Employer, Employee heard a loud pop in his back after pushing barrels and experienced tingling and numbness. Employee underwent another MRI that revealed a noticeably increased disc protrusion. SAIF accepted the 2006 injury as a lumbar strain and in 2007 it was determined that Employee was medically stationary. In 2008, a pallet fell on Employee's left foot and his back pain increased. Two doctors subsequently saw Employee and had differing opinions on whether his herniated disc had worsened due to the foot injury. The Board heard expert testimony from both doctors and reviewed the evidence. Both doctors agreed that the L4-5 disc herniation should be analyzed as a consequential condition and Employee had to prove that crushing his foot was a major contributing cause of his L4-5 disc herniation with radiculitis (a worsened state). Because the Board’s decision was supported by substantial evidence, the Court does not substitute its own decision or weight of the evidence. Affirmed.