2017 Opinion No. 87
from the Industrial Commission of the State of Idaho.
decision of the Industrial Commission is reversed.
Weymiller, Idaho Falls, pro se appellant.
Office of Kent Day, Meridian, attorneys for respondents.
Matthew J. Vook argued.
Nature of the Case
Weymiller ("Weymiller"), a former employee of
Lockheed Idaho Technologies ("Lockheed"), appeals
the Idaho Industrial Commission's (the
"Commission") order that she was not entitled to
additional medical care in relation to her bilateral carpal
tunnel syndrome ("CTS").
Factual and Procedural Background
March of 1991, Weymiller began to develop pain in her wrists.
On July 28, 1994, Weymiller filed a claim with Employers
Insurance of Wausau ("Surety") asserting that she
had developed CTS due to data entry involved in her
employment. Surety denied the claim. On March 1, 2000,
Weymiller, then an employee for Lockheed, filed another
claim. On May 30, 2000, Surety reevaluated and reversed its
previous denial thereby accepting that Weymiller's CTS
was related to her work and originally started in 1991.
Weymiller was referred to Dr. R. Timothy Thurman, M.D.
("Dr. Thurman"), a hand surgeon in Idaho Falls.
Thereafter, Weymiller received medical treatment for CTS
including wrist braces, pain medication, and steroid
injections. On June 6, 2007, Dr. Thurman performed surgery on
Weymiller's left wrist. On September 20, 2007, Weymiller
was released to return to work without restrictions.
Weymiller did not seek another appointment with Dr. Thurman
until May of 2012. She explained why she stopped seeking
appointments with Dr. Thurman as follows:
Well, when I go see Dr. Thurman, there is nothing he can do
except - it's not like he can treat me, except for
prescription medicine and wrist braces. So the idea that
I'm going to take sick leave or vacation time or whatever
I need to do and spend time and expense - your [Surety's]
expense going back to see Dr. Thurman to say that you have
bilateral carpal tunnel. I don't need anybody to tell me
that. I know that.
investigated Weymiller's claim because it had been nearly
five years since Weymiller had been evaluated by Dr. Thurman.
Surety characterized the five year time period as a "gap
in treatment." Surety authorized an appointment with Dr.
Thurman, but does not appear to have authorized any other
treatment at that time, including medication or wrist braces.
On October 25, 2012, Dr. Thurman examined Weymiller. On
January 13, 2013, Dr. Thurman conducted a follow-up
appointment. He diagnosed Weymiller with intermittent carpal
tunnel-type symptoms and wrote her a prescription for wrist
braces. On August 22, 2013, Weymiller filed a worker's
compensation complaint against Surety. Weymiller's
complaint was assigned to Referee LaDawn Marsters, who
conducted a hearing in Idaho Falls on June 29, 2015.
Weymiller represented herself pro se. The parties
presented oral and documentary evidence at the hearing.
Following the hearing, the matter was reassigned to Referee
John C. Hummel.
February 23, 2016, Referee Hummel issued his Findings of
Fact, Conclusion of Law, and Recommendation. He concluded
that Weymiller had not proven that she was entitled to
further medical care because she had not proven, to a
reasonable degree of medical probability, a causal connection
between her ongoing condition and her occupational exposure.
Referee Hummel reasoned as follows:
Claimant's treating physician, Dr. Thurman, has not given
an opinion, to a degree of reasonable medical probability,
that Claimant's recurrent CTS symptoms are causally
related to her workplace exposure that began in 1991. The
Referee has scrutinized the medical records of Dr.
Thurman's treatment of Claimant. The records reflect that
he consistently diagnosed Claimant with CTS from 2000 to
2014. Nowhere in any of those records did Dr. Thurman state a
medical opinion that causally related her CTS symptoms to her
accepted occupational exposure. Merely because Dr.