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Claimant’s Knee Infection Not Work-Related

Although claimant presented medical review evidence to support his claim that the cellulitis he developed in his right knee was related to his extended shift working on his knees for an extended time, the Court of Appeals says the record supports the commission’s rejection of claimant’s theory of the case.

Claimant said he injured his right leg on Aug. 30, 2011. He was fixing a leaky pump seal, a project that took two shifts to complete and required approximately six hours of kneeling and squatting on a concrete floor. The floor was not wet when he repaired the pump seal, but the leak had left a film of dirt from muddy water drying on the floor. Claimant felt some discomfort working on his knees, but it was not until after the second day of working on the pump that he felt “general pain” in his right knee. He considered it ordinary joint pain from the exertion of kneeling. His denim pant legs had not torn and he did not notice any scratches or broken skin on either knee.

Claimant later discovered his right knee was swollen and there was “one small little dot” at the center of the swelling. He learned his right knee had developed cellulitis, an infection caused by bacteria. His treating physician never determined the exact cause. He returned to work approximately one month later and his pain completely subsided after about three months.

A medical expert who reviewed the records concluded the cellulitis could have been caused by working on the knees, even without a break in the skin.

The facts of claimant’s case did not persuade the commission by a preponderance of the evidence that any condition of the workplace caused his cellulitis. We find nothing irrational about the conclusion. No treating physician linked claimant’s cellulitis to his work conditions. The only physician who attempted to make this connection had never examined claimant, never spoke with him and never identified any specific pathogen. Claimant did not call this physician as a witness and thus, the witness’s expert opinion was never tested by the crucible of cross-examination. Instead he relied solely on the physician’s written report, which the commission found, addressed caution in overly general terms.

Denial of benefits affirmed.

Barrett v. Dominion Resources Services (Kelsey) No. 1945-13-2, June 3, 2014; Workers’ Comp. Comm’n; Geoffrey R. McDonald for appellant; Emily O. Sealy for appellees. VLW 014-7-198(UP), 6 pp.

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