Claimant filed a Petition alleging he injured his neck and right shoulder at work on January 11, 2021. Employer contested Claimant’s Petition arguing his alleged injuries were the result of long-term degenerative processes and unrelated to the work accident. Employer’s medical expert, Dr. Steven Grossinger, opined that Claimant’s medical history was relevant for prior long-standing symptomatic and unresolved neck problems. Following a Hearing before the Board, Claimant’s Petition was denied.
The Board noted they found Claimant “implausible” because he failed to disclose substantial prior treatment to areas of his body he claims to have injured for the first time on January 11, 2021. The Board noted the Claimant failed to disclose to his treating physicians that he had prior injuries and repeated treatments over the course of a decade to body parts he claimed to have injured for the first time in January 2021. The Board also found Claimant incredible when he reported “ten out of ten crippling pain,” yet delayed seeking treatment for ten days. The Board also found that Claimant’s complaints of headaches and problems with his sinuses were likely increased due to his cocaine and heroine use.
The Board ultimately denied Claimant’s Petition stating they found him to be “suspect.” The Board noted Claimant’s lack of candor and delayed treatment did not credibly support that an accident and a resulting injury occurred in the manner Claimant alleged.
Following the Board Decision, Claimant filed an appeal in the Superior Court of Delaware. Claimant’s basis for appeal was the Board erred as a matter of law in denying his Petition and the Board Decision was not supported by substantial evidence.
Claimant took an interesting position conceding while he was not candid regarding his prior medical history, it was not relevant because his prior treatment was largely related to body parts that are unrelated to those at issue in this case.
The Superior Court issued its decision March 7, 2022. The Court noted in its decision that when deciding and appeal from the Industrial Accident Board, the Court must defer to the Board’s expertise and does not weigh evidence, determine questions of credibility, or make findings of fact. It is the exclusive function of the Board to evaluate the credibility of witnsseses before it.
The Court stated the Board had sufficent evidence to conclude that Claimant failed to meet his burden of proof that his neck and right shoulder injury were casually related to the January 11, 2021 work incident. The Court further stated that Claimant’s explanantion of the alleged accident was contradicted by eyewitnesses, his claim of injury was internally inconsistent and contradicted by prior medical history, his expert and treating physicians relied significantly on the inaccurate and unrelaiable information that he provided, and the opinion of the Employer’s expert was based on objective findings that contradicted Appellant’s subjective claims.
The Court affirmed the Board decision finding it was free from legal error and supported by substantial evidence.
Should you have any questions regarding this Decision, please contact Gregory P. Skolnik, or any other attorney in our Workers’ Compensation Department.
Allan Sheingold v. C & S Enterprise, Inc., N21A-08-004, (Mar. 07, 2022).v