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Commission Could Reject Credibility Finding

A deputy commissioner’s credibility findings were not based on observation of the witnesses’ testimony regarding claimant’s assertion that he was injured while still working for Royal Import, and the Court of Appeals says the commission could reject those findings and conclude the injury did not occur as claimant described; denial of benefits affirmed.

Claimant alleges the commission erred by arbitrarily dismissing the deputy commissioner’s determination regarding the credibility of certain witnesses. Claimant and another witness testified claimant was injured on April 30, 2012, while lifting a tire at his place of employment, Royal Import. Royal’s co-owners denied that claimant ever reported such an injury until after he had terminated his employment. The deputy commissioner found claimant’s story credible and awarded him temporary total benefits. The commission reversed the deputy commissioner’s award concluding it was unable to adopt the deputy commissioner’s credibility finding because claimant’s and the witness’s testimony about claimant’s injury while lifting a tire was completely contradicted by the initial medical records.

The deputy commissioner merely concluded he believed claimant’s and the witness’s version of events – however nothing in the deputy commissioner’s decision indicates that his conclusions were based upon his personal observation of the witnesses’ demeanor or appearance at the hearing. Consequently, the commission had no obligation to articulate its specific reasons for finding certain witnesses more credible than others.

The commission’s rejection of the claim of injury by accident at Royal Import is supported by credible evidence in the record: the initial medical reports in the days following April 30, 2012, where claimant denied or was silent as to whether a particular event caused his pain; and the medical records that reflected inconsistent accounts given by claimant as to the specific details of the April 30, 2012, incident.

Denial of benefits affirmed.

Yowell v. Royal Import Inc. (Humphreys) No. 1679-13-3, June 3, 2014; Workers’ Comp. Comm’n; Andrew D. Finnicum for appellant; Thomas H. Miller for appellee; Nathaniel D. Moore for appellee Uninsured Employer’s Fund. VLW 014-7-197(UP), 6 pp.

VLW 014-7-197

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