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Southwest Airlines/Cambridge Integrated Service v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board

July 30, 2009

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES/CAMBRIDGE INTEGRATED SERVICE, PETITIONERS
v.
WORKERS' COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (KING), RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mary Hannah Leavitt, Judge

ORDER

AND NOW, this 4th day of December, 2009, it is hereby ORDERED as follows:

(1) The opinion in the above matter, filed July 30, 2009, is hereby AMENDED as shown in the highlighted language of the attached opinion.

(2) The opinion in the above matter shall be designated OPINION rather than MEMORANDUM OPINION, and it shall be reported as amended by this Order.

Submitted: April 24, 2009

Amended December 4, 2009

BEFORE: HONORABLE DORIS A. SMITH-RIBNER, Judge HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge HONORABLE JOSEPH F. McCLOSKEY, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Southwest Airlines (Employer) petitions for review of an adjudication of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Board) granting the claim petition of Cheryl King (Claimant). In doing so, the Board affirmed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) that Claimant sustained a compensable work-related injury. Concluding that the testimony of Claimant's medical expert was not competent to prove the cause of Claimant's disability, we reverse.

The facts are as follows. Claimant began employment in October 2005 and was placed in a training program for an operations agent. Claimant's duties involved operating the jetway doors between the aircraft and the terminal as passengers boarded and deplaned their flights. According to Claimant, on October 20, 2005, she was "hit in the face and head by a metal door while walking in the jetway." Claim Petition at 1. As a result of this incident, she claimed to have experienced headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, head and neck pain, blackouts and difficulty remembering things. Claimant has not returned to work.

At a hearing before the WCJ, Claimant testified that the accident occurred at the end of her shift in the afternoon, when she was struck by the left jetway door.*fn1 Claimant also testified that she could not recall whether there were any witnesses to the incident. Claimant did not manifest any injuries, such as a bruise, a bloody nose or a bump; however, she did report severe head pain to her supervisor, Cynthia Rasco.

Claimant testified that she had never been involved in a slip and fall, motor vehicle accident, or any other type of incident where she could have injured her head or neck, either before or after October 20, 2005. Claimant testified that she never had any problems with, or received treatment for, headaches, migraines, dizziness, blackouts or memory loss.

Cross-examination established that Claimant had injured her head in a bus accident, but Claimant could not remember when the accident occurred; what, if any symptoms she had; how long those symptoms lasted; or if she received any treatment. Claimant also admitted injuring her head on January 9, 2003, when she struck it on her truck door. She recalled being treated for dizziness, headache and nausea following that incident, but could not remember the duration of that treatment.

Claimant was cross-examined about several workers' compensation claims she filed between 1992 and 1997. Claimant did not dispute the accuracy of the records, but stated repeatedly that she could not remember the substance of the claims. Specifically, Claimant did not remember reporting headaches, blurred vision and dizziness in 1992; headaches, neck pain and cervical sprain and strain while she was employed by St. Paul Fire & Marine in November 1994; chronic headaches in 1995; or a head injury with headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentrating while she was employed by Chase Bank in 1997. Reproduced Record at 207a-209a (R.R. __). When confronted with her family physician's medical record of ...


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