SR of Arkansas

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Before the Arkansas Workers' Compensation CommissionJun 17, 2004
2004 AWCC 107 (Ark. Work Comp. 2004)

CLAIM NO. E908494


Upon review before the FULL COMMISSION in Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas.

Claimant represented by HONORABLE PHILIP M. WILSON, Attorney at Law, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Respondents represented by HONORABLE RANDY P. MURPHY, Attorney at Law, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Decision of the Administrative Law Judge: Affirmed.


The Arkansas Court of Appeals has reversed the Full Commission's opinion in the above-styled matter and has remanded for further findings of fact. See, Harvey v. SR of Arkansas Hartford Insurance, CA03-1190 (Ark.App. May 12, 2004). The Court has directed the Commission to determine whether the claimant proved that she suffered an aggravation of a pre-existing condition that met the definition of a compensable injury. After again reviewing the entire record de novo, the Full Commission finds that the claimant proved that she sustained a compensable aggravation.

The parties stipulated that the claimant sustained a compensable injury on April 8, 1999. The claimant testified that she slipped in water and fell over a guard rail, landing on her right hip. The claimant began treating with Dr. James L. Schrantz after her compensable injury. Dr. Schrantz noted in July 1999 that a bone scan showed "aseptic necrosis of the right hip in a healing phase." Dr. Schrantz performed a "bipolar hip prosthesis, right" in May 2001. Dr. Schrantz subsequently opined that the claimant's aseptic necrosis of the right hip was not work-related. However, Dr. Schrantz also reported that an MRI taken post-injury had shown "marrow edema" which was compatible with a lesion occurring at about the time of the claimant's compensable injury. A report of "edema" constitutes an objective medical finding not within the claimant's voluntary control. See, Potocki v. St. Edward Mercy Medical Center, Workers' Compensation Commission F004149 (Feb. 3, 2004). Dr. John Phillips, a diagnostic radiologist, confirmed for the respondents that diagnostic testing had shown a "more pronounced edema on the right" after the compensable injury. An aggravation is a new injury resulting from an independent incident, and being a new injury with an independent cause, it must meet the definition of a compensable injury in order to establish compensability for the aggravation. Heritage Baptist Temple v. Robison, 82 Ark. App. 460, 120 S.W.3d 150 (2003). In the present matter, the claimant proved by a preponderance of the evidence that she sustained a compensable aggravation of pre-existing aseptic necrosis at the time of her compensable injury on April 8, 1999. Pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 11-9-102(4)(A)(i) and following, the claimant proved that the aggravation caused physical harm to the body, arose out of and in the course of employment, required medical services, and resulted in disability. The claimant also established a compensable aggravation by medical evidence supported by objective findings pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 11-9-102(4)(D), namely the "edema" reported on post-injury diagnostic testing.

The Full Commission therefore affirms the administrative law judge's order and opinion filed October 7, 2002. The claimant proved that she was entitled to reasonably necessary medical treatment, including the surgery performed by Dr. Schrantz. We also affirm the administrative law judge's finding that the claimant proved she remained in her healing period and incapacitated to earn wages "for three weeks in early 1999 and from May 11, 2001 through August 21, 2001." The claimant's attorney is entitled to fees for legal services pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 11-9-715(a) (Repl. 1996). For prevailing on appeal to the Full Commission, the claimant's attorney is entitled to an additional fee of two-hundred fifty dollars ($250), pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 11-9-715(b)(1) (Repl. 1996).


______________________________ OLAN W. REEVES, Chairman

______________________________ SHELBY W. TURNER, Commissioner

Commissioner McKinney concurs.