Hard-Fought Win for a Denied Repetitive Motion Tenosynovitis and Carpal Tunnel Claim

DISCLAIMER: The results are specific to the facts and legal circumstances of each of the clients’ cases and should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client’s case.

Hard-Fought Win for a Denied Repetitive Motion Tenosynovitis and Carpal Tunnel Claim

Bob Bollinger recently won a case for an upholsterer from Hickory, North Carolina.

Bob’s client worked as an upholsterer in a furniture factory in Hickory and developed tenosynovitis in his right arm. He reported it to his employer but they denied that his symptoms were work-related. However, the plant nurse sent him to an orthopedic surgeon there in Hickory to be evaluated. That surgeon ultimately diagnosed the tenosynovitis and carpal tunnel syndrome that was secondary to the tenosynovitis and operated on him for both conditions. Then, the furniture factory fired Bob’s client for an alleged discrepancy in work tickets that he turned in to payroll. They fired him the day after they got a letter from Bob telling them that he was representing the employee.

So, the furniture factory denied the claim, and then, after the upholsterer hired Bob to help him, they fired him and contested the claim.

Bob took the case to court and won in front of the Deputy Commissioner. The hand surgeon that the furniture factory’s nurse had sent him to testified that the work activities as an upholsterer did cause the tenosynovitis and the secondary carpal tunnel, and that those job duties put Bob’s client at a greater risk of developing those problems than someone in the general population who did not perform the same job. That met the standard for an “occupational disease” under the North Carolina Workman’s Compensation Act, and Bob and his client won the case in front of the Deputy Commissioner. As of this writing, the defendants have appealed to the Full Commission, and the oral arguments have been made by the lawyers at the Commission, but we are simply waiting on the decision of the Full Commission.

It is hard to win a carpal tunnel case based on repetitive job activities. Because of the medical science behind the causation of carpal tunnel, many doctors are reluctant to state an opinion that the job activities cause the carpal tunnel. A lot of other factors can cause carpal tunnel. Here, the carpal tunnel was secondary to another condition, tenosynovitis. The client’s doctor did not have any hesitation linking the tenosynovitis to the work activities of an upholsterer.

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