MO: Commission Awards PTD for Depression, Reversing Findings of Temporary Award
Claimant can no longer work due to depression, according to a Commission decision affirming a PTD award. Venable v St. Louis Bridge Co., DOLIR 7-26-11. Claimant hurt his back and required a multi-level fusion. He had a settlement for a prior back surgery but stated he didn't have much pain until his 2003 accident when he tried to lift a 1700 pound expansion joint. He claims he developed depression and PTSD. Claimant's wife testified he lost that loving feeling: now everyone calls him grouchy.
In an earlier temporary award, the administrative law judge ordered the employer to provide treatment for an adjustment disorder based on the opinions of Dr. Wolfgram. The judge noted the case was close. In the final award, a different judge found that Dr. Wolfgram lacked credibility.
Dilallo v City of Maryland Heights, 996 S.W.2d 675 (Mo. App. 1999) indicates that a "temporary" award is just that: a final award can reach different conclusions based on additional significant evidence. The Commission issued a separate opinion noting "additional significant evidence" supported the flip flop regarding opinions about the experts' credibility. Claimant's expert, when he was re-deposed, admitted that he now had reviewed the medical records that he had not reviewed at the time of his initial evaluation and concluded claimant could never work again because of depression and PTSD. That clarification now made him more credible. Dr. Wolfgram testified on behalf the employer that claimant did not need medication, that he had no permanent psychiatric disability, that he needed to stop the litigation and he was too entrenched in his 7 year old case. "We now have a 900-pound gorilla, and nothing is going to stop it unfortunately."
Source: Martin Klug, Huck, Howe & Tobin. Read Martin Klug's Mo. Workers' Comp Alerts.
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