The Third Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a WCJ’s denial of benefits and awarded attorneys fees and $8,000 in penalties in a complex opinion on a back injury case. In Marshall v. Courvelle Toyota, Herbert Marshall injured his back while bending to pick up a transmission in the course of scope of his employment. The workers’ comp program administrator for the dealership initially approved diagnostic visits, but denied recommended treatment repeatedly, from several doctors. The claims administrator later denied his claim because he had not been using the proper equipment at the time of his injury and because he did not submit to one of the urine tests that was requested over the course of his treatment. Marshall was later able to get medication to treat his pain, but confusion over urine tests, which initially came back positive for cocaine but were later found to be clean, played into the case.
The WCJ found that Marshall failed to prove that he suffered an accident, among other issues. In its opinion, the Third Circuit reversed the ruling, explaining that objective findings from the original doctor Courvelle Toyota sent him to prove that he had an injury. Further, the judges noted that “whether Mr. Marshall should have used the lift-gate truck instead of the van is not a valid defense to his workers’ compensation claim… [and] denial of benefits because Mr. Marshall refused to provide a second urine sample to the emergency room personnel on January 2, 2014, is also not supported by the evidentiary record. While Mr. Marshall’s testimony that he did provide a urine sample appears to be supported by the emergency room records, nothing in those records suggest that the sample was for drug testing purposes or that another sample was requested of Mr. Marshall.” The Court also states in the opinion that the WCJ should not have put weight on an emergency room doctor’s note that Marshall “appears to be doctor shopping.” The opinion states that the comment was “rather gratuitous” and “it should not be surprising” that Marshall went to several different doctors as confusion surrounding his claim mounted.
Read the full opinion here.