Smith v. Brett/Robinson Construction Company, Inc.

Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama

215 So. 3d 1113 | July 22, 2016

Alabama Court of Appeals Affirms Award for Plaintiff Despite Pre-Existing Arthritis.

Plaintiff worked for defendant as a construction supervisor, and reported an injury to her knee when she tripped and fell at work. Plaintiff’s case was tried in the Circuit Court of Baldwin County, Alabama, wherein she claimed to have suffered a torn meniscus. Plaintiff’s accident occurred in May, 2013. Approximately six weeks thereafter, plaintiff’s Authorized Treating Physician performed an investigative arthroscopic procedure to determine if there was a tear in her meniscus. Plaintiff’s doctor determined that the meniscus was intact, but that there was the presence of arthritis that appeared to be degenerative in nature.

Plaintiff requested a second opinion, and in October, 2013 plaintiff was the subject of an MRI procedure that did reveal the possibility of a torn meniscus, along with the previously identified arthritis. Plaintiff’s second doctor opined that the arthritis existed prior to her workers’ compensation related injury, but that the injury potentially exacerbated her arthritic condition.

Plaintiff’s co-workers testified that she appeared not to be suffering any detrimental effects resulting from her knee prior to her injury, but that she did appear to limp, and be in pain after her injury. One of plaintiff’s co-workers also testified that, after her injury in May, 2013, but before her second MRI, they witnessed plaintiff appear to have a second injury to her knee while in the employee break room, whereby plaintiff reported to have heard a “pop” and subsequent pain in her knee. Plaintiff reported this injury to her second treating physician, but did not report it as a work-related injury to her supervisors.

With regards to her initial injury, the trial court found that it did not result in a torn meniscus. Plaintiff was assigned a 50% impairment to her lower extremity, and plaintiff appealed the trial court’s judgment that the presence of a torn meniscus was not connected to her work related injury suffered in May, 2013.

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