Penalty Benefits Affirmed in Bridgestone v. Dalton

In the case Bridgestone/Firestone v. Dalton, the court of appeals considered the rulings of Commissioner Chris Godfrey. In his ruling, Godfrey modified the penalty of $75,000 previously assessed by the deputy commissioner to $33,027.69. He affirmed the decision to award Dalton 250 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits based on injuries he sustained to his right shoulder.

Dalton, a 56-year-old high school graduate, has worked for Bridgestone/Firestone since 1979 in various capacities. At times his job has required him to lift between 35 and 50 pounds. In March, 2010, he visited company physician Dr. Todd Troll, who reported that he could not associate any injury with his work duties and referred him to his primary care physician. Dalton was examined by his physician and, on September 15, visited an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Neff. Subsequent testing revealed a full-thickness rotator cuff tear as well as a degenerative tear. On December 8, Dr. Neff ordered surgical treatment for the injuries. On December 15th, Dalton received a letter from Bridgestone, denying workers’ compensation benefits in his case, based on Dr. Troll’s opinions in March.

The court notes that Dr. Troll’s opinion did not provide a reasonable basis to deny compensation in the case. Further, two other physicians found the injuries to be related to a cumulative work injury. Citing Iowa Code section 86.13, the court explained that compensation was delayed or denied in this case for a period of 9 months, with no substantial reasoning to support that delay. As such, the findings of the commissioner awarding a penalty of $33,027.69 were affirmed.

The court further affirmed that there is substantial reason to believe that Dalton’s injuries are, in fact, a result of chronic overuse on the job and not related to some other accident or incident. Despite the fact that Dalton has been able to return to his former position, he experiences a 50 percent industrial loss and is therefore awarded 250 weeks permanent partial disability.

If you have been injured in the workplace and your employer fails to provide workers’ compensation, our experienced team may be able to help. Contact the Pothitakis Law Firm today online or at 866-804-3006 for a free consultation.

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