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PC Metro Bottling v. Ringgold

Superior Court of Delaware

June 13, 2019

PC METRO BOTTLING, Appellant/ Employer-Below,
v.
RANDALL R. RINGGOLD, Appellee/ Claimant-Below.

          Submitted: April 5, 2019

         Upon Appeal from the Industrial Accident Board

          ORDER

          THE HONORABLE ANDREA L. ROCANELLI

         This is an appeal from the Industrial Accident Board ("LAB"). Upon consideration of the facts, arguments, and legal authorities set forth by the parties; statutory and decisional law; and the entire record in this case, the Court hereby finds as follows:

         1. Claimant-Appellant, Randall R. Ringgold ("Claimant"), suffered a compensable injury to the right shoulder on November 26, 2016 while working for PC Metro Bottling ("Employer"). Claimant sustained the injury while reaching overhead for a case of two-liter soda bottles. Claimant continued working for Employer after the work-related accident.

         2. Claimant underwent surgery to the right shoulder performed by Claimant's treating physician, Douglas Palma, M.D., on March 9, 2017. At that time, Claimant was placed on total disability.

         3. Employer's defense medical expert, Evan Crain, M.D., examined Claimant on October 18, 2017 at Employer's request. Dr. Crain also reviewed a number of medical records related to the case. Dr. Crain, opined that as of the October 18, 2017 Defense Medical Examination ("DME"), Claimant was no longer physically disabled from all work. Specifically, Dr. Crain found Claimant to be capable of full-time, medium duty work and expected Claimant to be capable of full duty work without restrictions upon completion of a work hardening program.

         4. Claimant discontinued the work hardening program after several weeks because Claimant did not believe it was helpful to resolving Claimant's continued right shoulder symptoms.

         5. Dr. Palma released Claimant to return to work full duty with no restrictions as of October 30, 2017. Nevertheless, Claimant continued to experience issues with his right shoulder. Claimant returned to see Dr. Palma on November 13, 2017, whereupon medium duty work restrictions were reinstated.

         6. On January 11, 2018, Employer filed a petition with the IAB seeking to terminate Claimant's total disability benefits.

         7. A hearing was held on the pending termination petition on April 30, 2018. During the hearing, the IAB considered a stipulation of facts provided by the parties as well as the testimony of Claimant and Dr. Crain.[1]

         8. By decision dated July 11, 2018 ("Termination Decision"), the IAB determined that Claimant is no longer totally disabled and can return to work in a fulltime, medium duty position with restrictions that are causally related to the compensable work injuries. After weighing the evidence, the IAB accepted Dr. Crain's opinion that Claimant was no longer physically disabled from all work as of October 18, 2017. Nevertheless, because Dr. Crain had not examined Claimant since the October 18, 2017 DME to confirm that Claimant is capable of a full duty release, the IAB concluded that Claimant continued to only be capable of working within the restrictions provided by Dr. Palma in November 2017. Furthermore, the IAB found that Claimant's discontinuation of the work hardening program did not constitute refusal of reasonable medical services and that Claimant had otherwise complied with recommended treatment.

         9. The IAB granted the termination petition and awarded ongoing partial disability benefits. The IAB also awarded attorney's fees in the amount of $7, 000.00.

         10. On July 9, 2018, just prior to the issuance of the IAB's decision on the termination petition, Claimant returned to work and informed Employer that he was not seeking further partial disability benefits. Claimant recovered a total of $13, ...


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