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12/04/97 SACRED HEART HOSPITAL v. WORKERS'

December 4, 1997

SACRED HEART HOSPITAL, PETITIONER
v.
WORKERS' COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (MUTIS), RESPONDENT



Appealed From No. A95-1797. State Agency Workers' Compensation Appeal Board.

Before: Honorable Doris A. Smith, Judge, Honorable Rochelle S. Friedman, Judge, Honorable Silvestri Silvestri, Senior Judge. Opinion BY Senior Judge Silvestri. Dissenting Opinion BY Judge Friedman.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Silvestri

OPINION BY SENIOR JUDGE SILVESTRI

Filed: December 4, 1997

Sacred Heart Hospital (Employer) petitions for review of an opinion and order of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) and granted the claim and reinstatement petitions of Barbara Mutis (Claimant).

The facts, as found by the WCJ, are as follows.

1. The claimant suffered a back injury in October of 1988 while in the employ of defendant, Sacred Heart Hospital. Claimant returned to work at Sacred Heart Hospital in February of 1990. A Supplemental Agreement was executed reflecting claimant's return to work at no loss of earnings on February 17, 1990.

2. From February 17, 1990 through April 20, 1993 claimant performed her pre-injury duties without restriction and did not experience an increase in pain.

3. On April 21, 1993 claimant experienced back pain when she reached over a bed to pull a patient onto a bed pan.

4. Claimant notified defendant of her injury on April 21, 1993, the date of its occurrence.

5. On January 27, 1994 claimant returned to work at a loss of earnings.

6. The claimant presented no medical testimony in support of her petitions. Following the April 21, 1993 incident at work, the claimant's pain in her back and legs worsened over the course of several months. On September 10, 1993 the claimant began missing work with the defendant.

The WCJ found no obvious causal connection between Claimant's prior injury and the incident occurring on April 21, 1993 and thus, denied the claim and reinstatement petitions on the basis that Claimant failed to produce any medical testimony in support of her petitions.

The Board accepted the findings of the WCJ but determined the WCJ erred in denying the reinstatement petition for Claimant's failure to present medical testimony. The Board concluded that unequivocal medical evidence is not necessary for the Claimant to establish that the original work-related injury continues. Having concluded that Claimant's testimony satisfied her burden of proof, the Board reversed the WCJ and ...


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