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Workers’ Compensation Benefits Secured for Woman’s Shoulder Injuries

Amount: Undisclosed
Court: Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court
Plaintiff’s Counsel: Jeffrey M. Heller Benjamin P. Wiborg

On January 17, 2018, NPHM attorneys Jeff Heller and Ben Wiborg began a jury trial in the case of DeCarla Day v. Röchling Glastic Composites, LP. The case was tried in the courtroom of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Hollie Gallagher. The trial, which was to determine whether Ms. Day was entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits for three shoulder conditions, lasted three days and resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff. Counsel for the defendant was Timothy Marcovy of LoPresti, Marcovy & Marotta. (CV-17-874086)

At the time of her injury, Ms. Day had been employed with Röchling Glastic Composites, LP for 17 years. She worked the bulk of her employment as a press operator, which involved repetitively lifting 40- to 50-pound spools of fiber composite overhead, as well as repetitively scooping 10 pounds of resin out of a 55-gallon drum. On May 30, 2014, Ms. Day reached into the resin drum to scoop out resin when she felt a sharp pain in her shoulder. She immediately left work and went to the emergency room where an X-ray revealed a right shoulder sprain and degenerative cervical disc disease. She later followed up with an occupational medicine physician and obtained an MRI, which revealed a torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, and shoulder impingement.

At trial, the defense argued that all of Ms. Day’s conditions were degenerative. If believed, this would result in a total bar from workers’ compensation benefits. The defense’s best evidence was that Ms. Day had three prior reported right shoulder incidents (2005, 2006, 2011), that she complained of right shoulder pain for at least several weeks prior to her “injury,” and that an incomplete surveillance video showed Ms. Day using only her left arm to scoop resin around the time of injury. The thrust of plaintiff’s argument was that the repetitive movements led to a slow deterioration of Ms. Day’s shoulder—all work related—which ultimately made her susceptible to the shoulder tears she suffered on May 30, 2014. Plaintiff’s evidence came from herself and her husband. The video surveillance was impeached as being unreliable due to the poor foundation laid by the company’s records custodian.

The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for the rotator cuff and labrum tear injuries, but found for the defendant as to the shoulder impingement. Ms. Day was initially only allowed the condition of shoulder sprain/strain by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Plaintiff’s Expert: Dr. Catherine Watkins Campbell, MD (Advanced Orthopedics and Physical Therapy)

Defense Expert: Dr. Laurence Bilfield, MD (Martin and Tipton)

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