In Edwards v. AT T Technologies, Inc. (1989), 42 Ohio St.3d 119, 537 N.E.2d 1305, claimant's workers' compensation claim was allowed for upper and lower back injuries sustained on February 10, 1976.Summary of this case from Lewis v. Trimble
Submitted February 8, 1989 —
Decided May 3, 1989.
Workers' compensation — Depressive neurosis — "Flow-through" conditions — Application not barred by statute of limitations, when — R.C. 4123.84, applied.
CERTIFIED by the Court of Appeals for Franklin County, No. 86AP-831.
Appellee-claimant, Jacqueline Edwards, sustained a compensable injury on February 10, 1976, while in the course of and arising from her employment with appellant, AT T Technologies, Inc., a self-insured employer. Her workers' compensation claim was recognized for upper and lower back injuries.
On March 31, 1977, appellee was orthopedically examined on appellant's behalf by Dr. Robert B. Larrick. In his report of the same date, Larrick noted "some distinct indications of functional overlay." In December of that year, appellee was vocationally evaluated by Charles W. Loomis, a licensed psychologist and vocational analyst. Loomis, too, noted "evidence of psychosomatic overlay," and stated that "[p]ersonality testing suggested a psychophysiological reaction." Nearly a year and a half later, appellee was orthopedically examined by Dr. William S. Smith, who concluded that the "majority of symptoms at this particular time are conversional in nature." Finally, on July 17, 1980, Industrial Commission orthopedic specialist Dr. Joseph A. Ridgeway opined that appellee suffered from "some conversion anxiety" and recommended a psychological consultation prior to any effort at rehabilitation.
On December 6, 1982, appellee applied for an additional allowance for "depressive neurosis" based on the report of Dr. Edmond J. Goold. The motion was granted by a commission hearing officer and affirmed on appeal. Further appeal was denied by the commission. On July 19, 1984, appellant, pursuant to R.C. 4123.519, appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County. On June 9, 1986, appellant orally moved to dismiss, alleging that appellee's motion for additional allowance was barred by the two-year statute of limitations set forth in R.C. 4123.84. The court granted the motion, finding that although appellee did not file her application for additional allowance until December 1982, her psychiatric condition had been noted as early as 1977.
Appellee then appealed to the court of appeals, alleging that the trial court erred in finding that the statute of limitations was applicable. She further asserted, in the alternative, that even if the statute were applicable, there was no evidence that she knew or should have known of the presence of an injury-related psychiatric condition more than two years prior to the date of her motion. The appellate court sustained both assignments of error and reversed the common pleas court's decision.
The court of appeals, finding its decision on the issue of the applicability of R.C. 4123.84's statute of limitations to be in conflict with the decisions of the appellate courts in Hall v. Diamond Internatl. Corp. (Dec. 5, 1984), Hamilton App. No. C-840002, unreported, and Brock v. Mayfield (June 27, 1986), Montgomery App. No. CA 9686, unreported, certified the record of the case to this court for review and final determination.
Gibson Robbins-Penniman and J. Miles Gibson, for appellee.
Porter, Wright, Morris Arthur, Charles J. Kurtz III and Darrell R. Shepard, for appellant.
We begin our review by noting that the appellate court judgment was rendered without the benefit of our recent decision in Clementi v. Wean United, Inc. (1988), 39 Ohio St.3d 342, 530 N.E.2d 909. Clementi, in applying R.C. 4123.84's statute of limitations to "flow-through" conditions, requires any motion for additional allowance to be filed within two years "of the time claimant knew or should have known of the additional condition." Id. at syllabus.
Applying Clementi to the present facts, we must determine whether appellee knew or should have known of the psychiatric condition prior to December 6, 1980 — the date two years prior to her application. We answer this question in the negative. While the reports of Drs. Larrick, Smith, Loomis and Ridgeway preceded the above date, we are unconvinced that their references to a possible psychiatric condition were sufficient to put appellee on notice of a psychiatric condition related to her industrial injury. Absent such evidence, we find appellee's application timely.
Accordingly, we reverse that portion of the appellate judgment finding R.C. 4123.84's statute of limitations inapplicable to the case at bar. We, however, affirm that portion of the judgment finding that appellee's application was timely filed and reversing the decision of the court of common pleas.
Judgment reversed in part and affirmed in part.
MOYER, C.J., WRIGHT, H. BROWN and RESNICK, JJ., concur.
SWEENEY and DOUGLAS, JJ., concur in judgment only.
HOLMES, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part. I agree with the majority that the court of appeals should be reversed as to the applicability of R.C. 4123.84 to "flow-through" conditions as set forth in Clementi v. Wean United, Inc. (1988), 39 Ohio St.3d 342, 530 N.E.2d 909. However, I disagree with the conclusion of the majority here that the appellee had not been put on notice of her psychiatric or psychological problems two years prior to the filing of her application.
Here, Edwards' psychological condition had been noted upon a number of occasions in reports related to her industrial injury by various doctors and commission specialists between March 31, 1977 and July 17, 1980. In March 1977, Dr. Larrick noted "some distinct indications of functional overlay." Later that year, commission specialists, Gail Young, a work evaluator, and Charles W. Loomis, a licensed psychologist, found a psychosomatic overlay. In 1979, Dr. William S. Smith stated:
"It is my impression that, at this particular time, this lady's examination, history and the self diagram in which she diagrammed her pain pattern all demonstrate that the majority of symptoms at this particular time are conversional in nature. It is obviously impossible to totally separate any organic musculoskeletal disease from such an overwhelming conversional reaction but there is certainly no objective finding other than the very questionable diminished achilles reflex on the left lower extremity which is not associated with muscle atrophy at the calf.
"I, therefore, would have to conclude that this symptom complex does not represent organic disease sufficiently enough to warrant total disability from work at this time and certainly feel that psychologically, return to light work without heavy lifting would be beneficial."
The following year, 1980, Edwards was examined by Dr. Joseph A. Ridgeway, also a commission specialist, who concluded, "this lady should have the benefit of * * * psychological consultation." Edwards was represented by counsel throughout this period of time and all the above-mentioned reports were filed with the commission.
It is submitted that this evidence contained in the reports concerning Edwards' industrial injury is sufficient proof that a diligent person should have inquired further concerning the causal relationship between the injury and the psychological condition. Edwards was represented by legal counsel through this period who had these records fully available to them.
In holding that appellee had not been put on such notice, the court of appeals, and this court, are substituting their respective judgments for that of the trial court.
I would reverse the court of appeals in all respects.