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Taking light-duty job not enough to keep comp

An injured drugstore employee who wanted to keep her workers’ comp benefits needed to do more than accept the light-duty job offered by her employer, the Virginia Court of Appeals said today. She needed to keep looking for work, the appellate court said in CVS #1549 v. Plunkett.

The panel reversed an award of benefits to Lois Plunkett, in a published opinion written by Chief Judge Walter S. Felton Jr.

After a January 2007 injury to her right elbow and left arm, Plunkett was released to light-duty work in April, with instructions not to lift objects over 10 pounds or operate the drugstore’s drive-through window. In October, she went back to CVS as a part-time pharmacy associate. Plunkett told the employer she could work 20 hours or less, and would need to leave each afternoon to pick up her great-grandson from school, and could not work nights because of difficulty driving at night.

The employer filed a change-in-condition application to terminate Plunkett’s benefits. Plunkett argued taking the job offered by the employer satisfied her requirement to market her residual work capacity.

The commission agreed with Plunkett, but the Court of Appeals reversed.

The job Plunkett accepted was consistent with her post-injury work restrictions and her self-limited hours of availability due to family responsibilities and reluctance to drive at night. But that did not let her off the hook to keep searching for other employment.
By Deborah Elkins

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