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An injury of gradual growth, caused by the cumulative effect of many acts done or many exposures to conditions prevalent in the work, no one of which can be identified as the cause of the harm, is definitely excluded from compensation under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act, 1918 Va. Acts ch. 400, § 2(d).
Each of the employees suffered from a physical impairment caused by repetitive motion. Each employee applied for workers' compensation under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act. The Workers' Compensation Commission awarded benefits and the lower court affirmed the award. The employers sought review, contending that the impairments suffered by the employees were not diseases within the language of the statute.
Was a job-related physical impairment resulting from cumulative trauma caused by repetitive motion a “disease” within the contemplation of the Workers' Compensation Act?
The court agreed with the employers' contention and reversed the judgment of the lower court. The court found that the Commission did not correctly apply the law to the established facts. The court noted that precedent clearly showed that such impairments were not compensable under the statute. The court also found that because any definition of the words "injury" and "disease" that was so broad as to encompass any bodily ailment of whatever origin was too broad. Accordingly, the court held that job-related impairments resulting from cumulative trauma caused by repetitive motion, however labeled or however defined, were, as a matter of law, not compensable under the provisions of the statute.