Commission’s Reversal Illustrates “Kneed” for Careful Investigation of Pre-Existing Degenerative Conditions

Our office is pleased to report the receipt of a favorable Decision and Opinion on Review from the Commission modifying the original decision of the Arbitrator.   In this case, the petitioner, a firefighter, sustained a compensable work related accident injuring his right knee and underwent surgery.  Following surgery, therapy, and an FCE, the treating doctor found the petitioner to be at MMI. Four  months later, the petitioner returned to his treating doctor who noted end-stage degenerative changes and recommended a  total knee replacement.

Our client denied the need for the total knee replacement based on the opinion of our IME, who opined that the accident only temporarily aggravated the chondromalacia and that the need for the procedure was not related to the accident.  At trial the Arbitrator  found the petitioner’s right knee condition causally related to the work accident and awarded prospective medical care including a total knee replacement and further found our IME opinion to be not persuasive. The Arbitrator further awarded  over 100 weeks of TTD benefits.

After reviewing our brief and listening to our oral argument, the Commission disagreed with the decision of the Arbitrator and found that the petitioner had evidence of bone-on-bone anterior compartment osteoarthritis at the time of surgery.  The Commission further found the petitioner was at MMI on February 17, 2012, despite indications that there was significant arthritis which would severely impact his ability to work as a firefighter. The Commission relied on the opinion of the IME and found that the work accident only temporarily aggravated the petitioner’s  pre-existing chondromalacia.  The Commission concluded that the petitioner reached MMI on February 17, 2012 and awarded only 30 weeks of TTD benefits.  The Commission further vacated the award for prospective medical care including the knee replacement.

Congratulations to veteran attorney Jill Baker for this outstanding result.