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Goodchild v. R&E Excavation, LLC

Superior Court of Delaware

October 31, 2019

RONALD GOODCHILD, Employee-Below/Appellant,
v.
R&E EXCAVATION, LLC, Employer-Below/ Appellee.

          Date Submitted: July 10, 2019

         Upon Consideration of Appellant's Appeal from the Industrial Accident Board Affirmed in part. Remanded in part.

          Timothy E. Lengkeek, Esquire, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Employee-Below/Appellant.

          Joseph Andrews, Esquire, Dover, Delaware, Attorney for Employer-Below/Appellee.

          Honorable Calvin L. Scott, Jr., Judge.

         Before this Court is Appellant Ronald Goodchild's ("Appellant") appeal from the decision of the Industrial Accident Board ("Board"). For the following reasons, the Board's decision is AFFIRMED IN PART and REMANDED IN PART.

         Background

         On October 2, 2017, Appellant was injured in a work-related motor vehicle collision ("Work Event"). At a hearing before the Board, Appellant sought the Board's acknowledgment that a lumbar surgery proposed by his treating neurosurgeon was reasonable, necessary, and causally related to the Work Event. Appellant also sought payment of medical bills from his employer, Appellee R&E Excavation LLC ("Appellee") for other injuries Appellant suffered as a result of the Work Event. On February 8, 2019, the Board denied Appellant's claims.

         Parties' Assertions

         On May 28, 2019, Appellant filed his Opening Brief. Appellant alleges the Board's decision erred as a matter of law in two distinct ways. First, the Board erred by applying a more onerous standard of causation to Appellant's claim. The Board should have applied the "but for" standard of causation set forth by the Delaware Supreme Court in Reese v. Home Budget Center. Second, the Board erred by failing to make a factual finding that Appellant sustained compensable work-related injuries and that the medical treatment and bills Appellant incurred (excluding the potential lumbar surgery) were reasonable, necessary, and causally related to the Work Event.

         On June 14, 2019, Appellee filed its Answering Brief. Appellee argues that the Board applied the correct standard of causation and that there was substantial evidence to support the Board's decision. Appellee also argues that the Board was not required to address the issue of Appellant's medical bills because Appellant failed to raise this issue on the record before the Board.

         On July 10, 2019, Appellant filed its Reply Brief. Appellant again argues that the Board applied the incorrect legal standard for causation to Appellant's claim. Appellant argues that the issue of Appellant's medical bills was properly before the Board. Appellant points out that the Industrial Accident Board Pre-Trial Memorandum shows that Appellant sought medical bills and both medical experts testified that Appellant's medical bills (other than for the lumbar surgery) were reasonable and necessary to treat the injuries Appellant suffered in the Work Event.

         Standard of Review

         On an appeal from a decision of the Industrial Accident Board, this Court determines whether the Board's conclusions are supported by substantial evidence and are free from legal error.[1] This Court does not weigh the evidence, determine questions of credibility, or make its own factual findings. Instead, it evaluates ...


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