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Cabinets v. Waid

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 30, 2017

Masterbrand Cabinets, Appellant,
v.
Douglas Waid, Appellee.

         Appeal from the Worker's Compensation Board of Indiana Application No. C-227286 The Honorable Linda Peterson Hamilton, Chairman

          Attorney for Appellant Carol Modesitt Wyatt Dugan & Voland, LLC Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorney for Appellee Charles S. Hewins Hewins Law Firm Evansville, Indiana

          Barnes, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Masterbrand Cabinets ("Masterbrand") appeals a decision of the Indiana Worker's Compensation Board ("Board") awarding temporary total disability benefits to Douglas Waid. We affirm.

         Issue

         [¶2] Masterbrand raises one issue, which we restate as whether the Board properly awarded temporary total disability ("TTD") benefits to Waid following an on-the-job injury and a termination from his job for misconduct.

         Facts

         [¶3] Masterbrand hired Waid in June 2013 as a production associate, which involved doing physical labor. During his employment Waid was "coached" for his workplace conduct on several occasions regarding anger issues. Tr. p. 49. On June 6, 2014, Waid slipped while working and injured his lower back. Waid promptly notified his supervisor of the injury, but he initially thought that medical care would be unnecessary. However, Waid's pain got worse, and Masterbrand eventually referred him to Dr. James Butler. Waid saw Dr. Butler on June 24, 2014, complaining of shooting pains in his back and pains down into his leg. Dr. Butler determined that, "to make an absolute causation determination, " he needed medical records related to Waid's prior back problems. Ex. p. 7. Dr. Butler returned Waid to "full duty." Id. Waid disagreed with the full duty recommendation, but he did try to return to work. After working a full shift, he was unable to get out of bed the next day. On June 26, 2014, he returned to work. Waid got into a verbal altercation with his supervisor regarding his back pain and his lack of work restrictions. He threw his ice pack, nearly striking another employee, and cursed at his supervisor. Masterbrand suspended Waid and terminated his employment effective July 2, 2014.

         [¶4] Waid returned to Dr. Butler on July 1, 2014, and Dr. Butler placed Waid on restrictions of "max lifting of 20 lbs and change position as often as needed." Id. at 12. On July 28, 2014, Waid had another appointment with Dr. Butler. Waid continued to complain of severe pain, and Dr. Butler ordered physical therapy but removed the work restrictions. On September 29, 2014, Dr. Butler released Waid from treatment, found maximum medical improvement ("MMI"), and assigned a three percent whole-person impairment rating.

         [¶5] In October 2014, Waid filed a motion to compel an independent medical examination ("IME") by an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon. After a hearing, the Single Hearing Member found:

2. Plaintiff immediately reported the injury to his employer.
3. Plaintiff initially told his employer that he felt he would be okay and advised that he did have prior back problems.
4. Over the ensuing weekend the condition became worse and worse.
5. Plaintiff reported the increase in symptoms to his employer but there was no immediate follow up.
6. Plaintiff was finally seen for medical examination on June 24, 2014 by James Butler, M.D. Dr. Butler seemed to be more focused on making a causation determination than active treatment. Dr. Butler declined to place any work restriction in spite of Plaintiff's ongoing complaints of pain and limitations.
7. With respect to Plaintiff's medical history with his back, he advised Defendant and freely admitted in testimony to his past history. He established through the evidence, however, that by June 6, 2014 he was unrestricted in his physical abilities and doing his full function for Defendant.
8. Plaintiff was continuing to have difficulty doing full-duty, as Dr. Butler advised Defendant Plaintiff could so perform, and was upset about the impact the full-duty work was having on his back pain.
9. One of Defendant's representatives advised Plaintiff that either he could do the job or they would get someone who would. Plaintiff was terminated shortly thereafter.
10. Plaintiff saw Dr. Butler on July 1, 2014 and, after Plaintiff advised Dr. Butler that Defendant had terminated him, Dr. Butler only then imposed a twenty (20) pound weight restriction.
11. After receiving a new MRI and comparing it with a prior one, even though Plaintiff continued to have sharp pain in his back and in his leg, which Plaintiff describes as almost unbearable, Dr. Butler released Plaintiff at maximum medical improvement.
12. The Single Hearing Member finds that the appointment of an independent medical examiner pursuant to Indiana Code 22-3-4-11 is ...

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