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W.Va. SC: Man does not qualify for continued disability benefits

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Sep 19, 2012

Chief Justice Menis Ketchum

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, in a ruling last week, affirmed orders denying a man's requests for reopening for payment of temporary total disability benefits and consultation with WVU's Spine Center.

William J. Tygrett was employed with Process Construction Inc. when he was injured while at work on Jan. 8, 2009.

Months later, Dr. Bruce Guberman concluded that Tygrett had reached "maximum medical improvement."

In January 2010, a claims administrator then denied a request by Tygrett for a reopening for payment of temporary total disability benefits and another request for a consultation at the Spine Center.

The claims administrator closed the claim for temporary total disability benefits in March 2010.

The Workers' Compensation Office of Judges, in an October 2010 order, affirmed the claims administrator's two orders.

The state Workers' Compensation Board of Review, in a final order dated Feb. 11, 2011, affirmed the Office of Judges' order.

Tygrett appealed to the state's high court, arguing that he has suffered a "progression" of his condition, which now requires surgery and additional treatment.

On appeal, he also argued that he should be entitled to temporary total disability benefits and the requested medical treatment.

Process Construction, meanwhile, maintained that the requested temporary total disability benefits and the medical treatment are related to a "non-compensable condition."

The Court, in its memorandum decision filed Friday, said the Office of Judges found that the "preponderance of the evidence" established that Tygrett did not qualify for continued temporary total disability benefits.

"It noted that Dr. Guberman found that Mr. Tygrett had reached maximum medical improvement on June 23, 2009. Additionally, it noted that he failed to show that his condition had progressed or been aggravated, and therefore, the request for reopening was properly denied," the Court wrote in its two-page ruling.

"The Office of Judges also found that the requested medical benefits were related to non-compensable conditions of this claim, and were properly denied.

"The Board of Review reached the same reasoned conclusions in its decision of Feb. 11, 2011."

The Court concluded that the board's decision is "not in clear violation of any constitutional or statutory provision," nor is it the result of "erroneous conclusions of law."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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