by Keith J. Kasper, Esq.

Effective 1/1/21 Claimant’s can require the carrier to pay their weekly indemnity benefits pursuant to direct deposit.
DOL is also now requiring all medical records or Forms e-mailed to the Department to be encrypted

Holbrook v. Kennametal Inc (II), Opinion No. 16-20WC (Oct. 6, 2020)(ALJ DeBernardi).
After mediation parties reach a settlement, with MSA submitted to CMS. Claimant objects to MSA alleging it is underfunded in the amount of $4,700 over remaining lifetime for certain medications, and therefore Claimant refuses to sign Form 16 and Settlement Addendum thereon. Defendant’s Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement denied as no executed Form 16 approved by Commissioner. “As an injured worker can rescind a fully executed Form 16 Agreement prior to the Commissioner’s approval, I see no reason why he or she cannot rescind a proposed agreement at an earlier stage in the process. Further, ordering Claimant to sign the Form 16 Agreement only to allow him to rescind it after signature would be pointless. The law does not require a futile act.”

Fitzgerald v AE MacKenzie, Inc., Opinion No. 17-20WC (Oct. 20, 2020) (ALJ Brown)
Pro Se Claimant fails to have treating doctor testify at formal hearing. “Without the benefit of {treating physician’s] sworn testimony, and with no opportunity to allow her to explain how a corrected factual account of Claimant’s injury history might affect her analysis, I cannot attach any weight to Dr Henley’s causation opinions.” Also, claimant not entitled to TTD benefits as not taken out of work until after terminated from employment for reasons unrelated to her injury and Claimant fails “to demonstrate a causal connection between [her] work injury and the disability.”

Brochu v Peck Electric Inc., Opinion No. 18WC (No. 4, 2020)(ALJ DeBernardi)
Claimant’s testimony found not credible so claim for compensable back injury denied. “I have rejected Dr. Gennaro’s opinions that Claimant suffered a back injury when he landed on his buttocks, or that he suffered a back injury working in the solar fields, as those opinions were based on factual misunderstanding. His other two opinions depend on Claimant’s credibility concerning his alleged persistent back pain since the roof incident and the alleged stumbling incident.”

Gallo v. Costco, Opinion No. 19-20WC (Nov. 22, 2020) (ALJ De Bernardi)
Claimant’s claim for TTD benefits post resignation on March 19, 2019 and subsequent to her May 29, 2020 surgery denied. ALJ finds Claimant left work for reasons unrelated to her work injury so no entitlement for TTD benefits after leaving work. Claimant’s exit interview did not mention work injury as contributing to her departure while written exit questionnaire does relate departure to injury. No attempt to return to work thereafter. No earnings in 26 weeks prior to surgery, and ALJ determination that wage loss did not result from work injury, bars claim for TTD benefits as no wages to replace.

Ali v University of Vermont, Opinion No. 202-20WC (Dec. 15, 2020)(ALJ Brown)
Unwitnessed, late reported injury found compensable as Claimant’s testimony found credible “on substantially all material and contested factual issues.” Claimant’s IME as to causation found supported, but Defendant’s IME as to MER and impairment accepted.

Marden v. Carrols LLC, Opinion No. 21-20WC (Dec. 15, 2020)(ALJ DeBernardi)
Claimant’s IME doctor’s opinion found credible as to both causation and a 15% spinal impairment. Defendant’s IME opinions relating symptoms to a “somatoform disorder lacks a solid foundation. Although he credibly testified about some non-organic findings, those findings do not necessarily rule out a physical injury. Further, there is no credible factual basis for his testimony that Claimant suffered childhood abuse or that she engages in self-destructive behavior.”