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SOUTHERN v. SHIRLEY CONTRACTING CORP., et al.


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SOUTHERN

v.

SHIRLEY CONTRACTING
CORP., et al.


JULY 3, 2001

Record No. 0384-01-2

Present: Judges Annunziata, Agee and Senior
Judge Coleman

GEORGE B. SOUTHERN, JR.

v.

SHIRLEY CONTRACTING CORPORATION AND

CLARK CONSTRUCTION GROUP, INC.

FROM THE VIRGINIA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
COMMISSION

(Wesley G. Marshall, on brief), for appellant.

(Alan D. Sundburg; Friedlander, Misler, Sloan,
Kletzkin & Ochsman, PLLC, on brief), for appellees.


MEMORANDUM OPINION[1] PER CURIAM

George B. Southern, Jr. (claimant) contends
that the Workers’ Compensation Commission erred in finding that
the medical treatment rendered to him by Dr. David P. Sokolow was
unauthorized, and, therefore, not the responsibility of Shirley
Contracting Corporation and its insurer (hereinafter referred to
as "employer"). Upon reviewing the record and the
briefs of the parties, we conclude that this appeal is without
merit. Accordingly, we summarily affirm the commission’s
decision. See Rule 5A:27.

On appeal, we view the evidence in the light
most favorable to the prevailing party below. See R.G.
Moore Bldg. Corp. v. Mullins
, 10 Va. App. 211, 212, 390
S.E.2d 788, 788 (1990).

The record established that Dr. Ramesh Chandra,
an orthopedist, has been claimant’s treating physician since
September 10, 1999. Dr. Chandra performed arthroscopic surgery on
claimant’s right knee on October 5, 1999. Thereafter,

Dr. Chandra noted "significant
degenerative changes" in claimant’s right knee revealed by a
repeat MRI. Dr. Chandra suspected that claimant eventually would
need joint replacement surgery. By February 9, 2000, Dr. Chandra
noted that his treatment of claimant was complete and that any
further treatment "would be in the hands of a total joint
replacement surgeon."

Dr. Sokolow, who examined claimant upon the
request of claimant’s attorney, recommended a total knee
replacement.

Dr. Sokolow opined that the knee replacement
was secondary to the September 8, 1999 accident. Claimant did not
seek authorization from employer to see Dr. Sokolow nor did he
request that the commission grant him a change in treating
physicians.

Dr. Joseph Linehan, who examined claimant on
April 26, 2000 at employer’s request, opined that the total knee
replacement was due to degenerative arthritis rather than the
compensable September 8, 1999 accident. Dr. Chandra opined that
he could not causally relate claimant’s need for total knee
replacement to the compensable September 8, 1999 accident in the
absence of any objective evidence that the accident aggravated or
accelerated claimant’s long-standing degenerative arthritis.

In its January 18, 2001 opinion, the full
commission affirmed the deputy commissioner’s finding that the
total knee replacement surgery recommended by Dr. Sokolow was not
causally related to claimant’s compensable September 8, 1999
injury by accident. Accordingly, the commission ruled that
employer was not responsible for the cost of Dr. Sokolow’s
treatment. Claimant did not challenge these findings on appeal,
and, therefore, they are binding and conclusive upon this Court.

Rather, on appeal, claimant contends that
because employer denied his claim for ongoing medical benefits;
Dr. Chandra released claimant from his care; and the commission
failed to rule upon the issue of whether Dr. Sokolow’s treatment
was authorized, he has been left without a treating physician. We
disagree.

Nothing in the record established that Dr.
Chandra did not continue to be claimant’s treating physician for
any causally related medical treatment that claimant might need
in the future. In fact, the record showed that claimant continued
to receive medical treatment from Dr. Chandra through at least
February 2000. Because Dr. Sokolow’s treatment was deemed
unrelated to the compensable accident and not employer’s
responsibility, the commission was not required to rule that

Dr. Sokolow’s treatment was authorized.

For these reasons, we affirm the commission’s
decision.

Affirmed.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Pursuant to Code ? 17.1-413,
this opinion is not designated for publication.

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