Claimant, 49 years of age, worked in various positions at the employer’s saw mill, most recently as a millwright. Every position he held during his 24-year career involved arduous physical labor, including heavy lifting on a daily basis. Sometime in March 1998, claimant began experiencing pain in his hip and leg. He did not identify any specific incident that caused the pain, but pointed to a number of his job duties that involved heavy physical labor. According to the Queens claimant, the pain developed gradually. After learning from his family physician that the pain related to a back condition or back injury, claimant sought compensation benefits. The employer and carrier or E/C completely denied the claim, including the request for a medical treatment. On 29 April 1998, claimant came under the care of doctor-A, who is an orthopedic surgeon, who placed him on a no-work status. After testing, physical therapy, and consultation with another doctor, doctor-B who is a neurosurgeon, doctor-A diagnosed lateral recess stenosis with degenerative disk disease and L3-4 herniated disk. Thus, claimant filed a claim under the worker’s compensation for compensation benefits. Thereafter, the judge of compensation claims or the JCC, in resolving the claim for compensation benefits, found the stenosis compensable under a repetitive trauma theory based on claimant’s and doctor-A’s testimony, and concluded that claimant’s heavy lifting and repetitive bending while working for the employer over the course of more than 20 years ca
There are two issues raised by the E/C on appeal, viz: first, that the judge of compensation claims (JCC) erred in deciding that claimant provided timely notice of his work injury; and, second, that claimant suffered a compensable accident under a repeated trauma theory. On the second issue, E/C contends that the only competent, substantial evidence (CSE) established that claimant’s non-compensable herniated disk combined with his preexisting lateral recess stenosis to cause his disability and need for treatment, and no evidence was presented that the employment was the major contributing cause of same.
The court finds that CSE supports the JCC’s determination of the first issue. And, on the second issue, after applying the limited standard of review of CSE, the court finds it proper but not for all of the reasons mentioned. First, there was no burden on claimant to prove that the stenosis was the major contributing cause of the disability. The stenosis is not a preexisting condition and there was only one cause, rather than multiple causes, of claimant’s disability and need for treatment. Second, a combination of the evidence, both lay and medical, supports the JCC’s determination that the employment caused claimant’s disability and need for treatment.