Sherri L. Dougherty
Successful in defeating claimant’s Reinstatement and Review Petitions. Claimant tripped and fell at work, injuring her right knee. She treated briefly with employer’s panel physicians and was released to full duty work. A few weeks later, the claimant was terminated after engaging in a verbal altercation with her supervisor. Claimant sought to have her indemnity benefits reinstated, and also filed a Review Petition, alleging that in addition to a knee contusion, she also suffered from internal derangement of her right knee, a right ankle injury, and a low back injury. The Judge found claimant and her medical experts incredible and accepted the testimony of the employer’s medical expert and two employer fact witnesses (claimant’s supervisor and the HR Generalist). The Judge found that claimant’s termination for cause was unrelated to her work injury, and did not warrant reinstatement of benefits. The Judge also did not believe claimant sustained injuries to her low back or right ankle. Claimant filed a timely Appeal, arguing that the Judge’s decision was not based on substantial evidence. The Appeal Board disagreed, and affirmed the Decision. Claimant’s benefits are now terminated, and no further payments after her termination for cause were due, saving the employer significant money.
Defended a Workers’ Compensation Claim Petition for a truck driver trainee for a large international trucking company, who alleged he suffered a heart attack as a result of physical duties of the job. The case was defended on the position that there was no Pennsylvania jurisdiction as the claimant was an employee of another state, and was not injured in Pennsylvania, and that the heart attack was not causally related to his work duties as a truck driver. The WCJ found that claimant was not in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the heart attack, based on the testimony of claimant’s supervisor, who confirmed that claimant was not working when he had his heart attack. This Decision resulted in enormous savings to the carrier, since the claimant had his heart attack in 2010 and was seeking ongoing disability.
Successful in terminating the benefits of a worker who suffered a crush injury to her hand, and in defending a Review Petition to add reflex sympathetic dystrophy to the description of injury. The WCJ found the employee had fully recovered from a contusion to the hand, and that all other alleged injuries were unrelated. While employee did not miss any time from work, the employee received excessive treatment from a physiatrist, and Sherri was successful in obtaining over $75,000 in reimbursement from the Supersedes Fund.
Defended a claim for ongoing disability benefits for a worker who suffered a neck and shoulder strain, and was then terminated for falling asleep at work while on light duty. The WCJ found that employee’s injury was limited to a neck and shoulder strain, and did not include lumbar herniated discs. The WCJ further found that work was available to the employee without loss of earnings, and that no disability benefits were due because the employee was terminated for cause. The WCJ further found the employee fully recovered from his injuries as of the examination by the defendant’s medical expert, thus limiting the claim to a short period of medical benefits. The employee appealed the decision up to the Commonwealth Court, and lost at every level.
Litigated a Fatal Claim Petition where the employee alleged that the decedent died from a heart attack due to the mentally stressful nature of the job. She presented several employer witnesses who testified that decedent was a well-liked employee who performed his job well, and that there were no abnormal working conditions to cause work-related stress. The Workers’ Compensation Judge found the employee’s fatal heart attack to be unrelated to his work as a salesman for a frozen food company.