David Rhoades and Walter Dennis (both from Raleigh) prevailed at a recent hearing where plaintiff, a mechanic, alleged that he suffered either an injury by accident or an occupational disease due to his job. The Deputy Commissioner found that plaintiff did not meet his burden of proving either an IBA or an occupational disease.
Plaintiff was working on June 25, 2015 when he reached down to pick up an air gun/torque wrench and felt a “pop” in his right hand. Plaintiff ultimately was diagnosed with CMS joint arthritis and underwent a surgery on the right thumb, including a carpometacarpal arthroplasty with ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition. Plaintiff alleged that the condition was either caused by an accident or, conversely, constituted a compensable occupational disease. The Deputy Commissioner found that plaintiff was performing his normal job when the injury occurred so there was no injury by accident. With respect to the allegation that if the condition was not caused by an accident, then it was an occupational disease, the Deputy Commissioner found that plaintiff had failed to prove that plaintiff’s job increased his risk of developing CMS joint arthritis and, at most, the orthopedic surgeon could only say that the job may have aggravated the condition. As such, the denial of plaintiff’s claim, either as an IBA or an occupational disease, was upheld.
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