Tony Vohnoutka v. Ronnie’s Cycle Sales of Bennington, Inc. Opinion No. 20-16WC

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STATE OF VERMONT

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Tony Vohnoutka v.Ronnie’s Cycle Sales of Bennington, Inc. Opinion No. 20-16WC

  1. By: Phyllis Phillips, Esq.

Administrative Law Judge

For: Anne M. Noonan

Commissioner

State File No. FF-00938

OPINION AND ORDER

Hearing held in Bennington on April 15, 2016

Record closed on May 16, 2016

APPEARANCES:

Claimant, pro se

Jennifer Meagher, Esq., for Defendant

ISSUES PRESENTED:

  1. Did Claimant suffer a compensable neck injury while working in the course and

scope of his employment on or about February 22, 2013?

  1. If yes, to what workers’ compensation benefits is he entitled?

EXHIBITS:

Joint Exhibit I: Medical records

Defendant’s Exhibit A: Curriculum vitae, William Boucher, M.D.

Defendant’s Exhibit B: Claimant’s personnel records

Defendant’s Exhibit C: Vermont First Report of Injury (Form 1), 3/27/14

Defendant’s Exhibit D: Letter to NYS Workers’ Compensation Board (with attachments),

March 27, 2014

Defendant’s Exhibit E: Denial of Workers’ Compensation Benefits (Form 2), 4/9/2014

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CLAIM:

All workers’ compensation benefits to which Claimant proves his entitlement as causally related

to his alleged February 22, 2013 work-related injury.1

FINDINGS OF FACT:

  1. At all times relevant to these proceedings, Claimant was an employee and Defendant was

his employer as those terms are defined in Vermont’s Workers’ Compensation Act.

  1. Judicial notice is taken of all relevant forms and correspondence contained in the

Department’s file relating to this claim.

  1. Claimant worked for Defendant, a retailer of recreational vehicles, as a service technician

beginning in March 2009.

  1. For the first year of his employment, Claimant occasionally proposed ideas to save

money and/or improve safety in the shop, which he felt his supervisor, Dave Munson,

appreciated hearing. Over time, however, he came to believe that his suggestions were

being ignored. He was particularly troubled by the fact that after voicing his concerns

about indoor air quality, Mr. Munson allegedly told him he would be fired if he filed a

VOSHA complaint and reprimanded him for going outside to get fresh air. As to these

allegations, Mr. Munson credibly testified that there was a working ventilation system in

the garage.

Claimant’s Alleged February 2013 Work Injury

  1. According to Claimant’s credible testimony, on or about February 22, 2013 Mr. Munson

asked him to help unload a snowmobile from his pickup truck. At some point while they

were both pulling the machine off the back of the truck, Mr. Munson let go, and Claimant

was left to bear the entire weight of the vehicle on his shoulders, arms and neck.

Claimant felt the immediate onset of numbness and tingling in his neck. He went inside,

sat down and told Mr. Munson his neck hurt and he needed a moment “to figure out how

I feel.”

  1. Claimant recalled that while he was sitting inside, Mr. Munson asked whether he needed

to go home and advised that if not, he should get back to work. He did not suggest that

Claimant seek medical attention, nor did Claimant request it.

1 Claimant did not appeal the Commissioner’s denial of his claim for temporary disability benefits for any period

prior to December 9, 2014 in the context of her ruling on Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, Vohnoutka v.

Ronnie’s Cycle Sales of Bennington, Inc., Opinion No. 01-16WC (January 25, 2016). His entitlement to those

benefits is no longer at issue, therefore.

3

  1. Claimant worked through the day, then went home to his mother’s house, where he

resided at the time. At formal hearing, his mother, Kimberly VonHaggin, credibly

recalled an evening in or around February 2013 when he came home from work

complaining of neck pain. She gave him some aspirin and he took a nap. Similarly,

Claimant’s close friend, Paul Jones-Fote, who also testified at formal hearing, credibly

recalled a time in or around February 2013 when he observed Claimant standing crooked,

grimacing and complaining of neck pain.

  1. For his part, Mr. Munson denied any recollection of either the snowmobile lifting

incident or Claimant’s complaint of neck pain immediately thereafter. While I do not

doubt his failure to recall the event, I find from Claimant’s credible testimony that the

lifting incident likely occurred, following which Claimant likely experienced some

degree of neck pain.

  1. Claimant did not seek medical attention for his claimed neck injury until February 2014,

almost an entire year after the snowmobile incident. In the intervening months, he visited

a medical provider on only one occasion. This was in May 2013, when he complained to

Katie Driscoll, a physician’s assistant, of nausea and headaches reportedly due to inhaling

fumes at work. As to any cervical pain, Ms. Driscoll’s review of symptoms on that date

specifically states, “Neck – normal range of motion, no tenderness, supple.”

  1. Mr. Munson credibly testified that between February and November 2013 Claimant gave

no indication that he was suffering from neck pain or that he was restricted in any way

from performing his normal work duties. His productivity and general attitude had

declined as compared to when he was first hired, but Mr. Munson had no reason to

attribute this to any injury-related cause.

  1. Claimant first made the decision to seek treatment for his neck pain in November 2013,

some eight months after his claimed injury. At hearing, he testified that the reason he did

not do so sooner was because he believed strongly that it was his employer’s

responsibility to cover his medical expenses. “I couldn’t bring myself to pay for it,” he

stated. I am persuaded that Claimant honestly believed he was justified in delaying

treatment on those grounds.

  1. On November 12, 2013 Claimant approached Mr. Munson and asked whether he recalled

an incident in February 2013 when Claimant hurt his neck while they were unloading a

snowmobile. Mr. Munson replied that he did not. Claimant then advised that he wished

to file a workers’ compensation claim, because he needed medical attention for his

ongoing neck pain.

  1. Mr. Munson conveyed Claimant’s request via email to Denise Bourassa, Defendant’s

human resources manager, and asked how best to proceed. After conferring with her

manager, Ms. Bourassa advised that because Claimant had not filed an accident report at

the time of his injury, as Defendant’s company policy required, he would have to pay for

medical treatment on his own.

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  1. At formal hearing, Ms. Bourassa testified to her understanding of Defendant’s policy for

reporting work-related injuries. According to her interpretation, employees are required

to do so “immediately,” that is, within 48 hours at most after the injury occurs. If they do

not, company policy requires that they seek medical treatment at their own expense.

Thereafter, if the medical information confirms that the injury was in fact work-related,

then at that point the company will file a First Report of Injury with state authorities.

  1. I find that Ms. Bourassa’s understanding of Defendant’s policy directly contravenes

Vermont law, which requires an employer to file a First Report of Injury (Form 1) with

the Department within 72 hours of receiving notice or knowledge of a claimed workrelated

injury requiring medical attention. This is true regardless of whether the

employer disputes the facts surrounding the injury and/or its relationship to the claimant’s

employment. 21 V.S.A. §701; Workers’ Compensation Rule 3.0500.2

Medical Treatment and Evaluations

  1. After learning in November 2013 that Defendant would not agree to cover his medical

expenses, Claimant again delayed seeking treatment for his ongoing neck pain. Finally,

in mid-February 2014 he presented to Melanie Clark, a nurse practitioner, with a

complaint of neck pain that reportedly had begun “about a year ago at work moving a

snowmobile.” Ms. Clark diagnosed cervicalgia. Based on the history Claimant

described, she determined that the February 2013 snowmobile incident was the

“competent medical cause” of his injury. As treatment, she prescribed pain medications

and made referrals for both physical therapy and an orthopedic consult. In the meantime,

noting that Claimant had been able to work without restrictions since his injury, she did

not change his work duties. I find Ms. Clark’s analysis credible.

  1. Ms. Clark next examined Claimant on June 20, 2014. She reiterated that his complaints

were consistent with the history he had reported, and again recommended both physical

therapy (which Claimant had not yet initiated) and an orthopedic consultation.

Notwithstanding his subjective report of worsening pain, Ms. Clark also reiterated that

Claimant was capable of working without restrictions or limitations.

  1. Claimant underwent an orthopedic consultation with Dr. Robbins on July 14, 2014.

According to the medical record, he reported the sudden onset of neck pain some two

years previously “as a result of lifting.” X-rays revealed degenerative changes at two

levels of the cervical spine. Dr. Robbins’ clinical impression was of a soft tissue and

posterior element cervical spine injury, with resulting spasm and mechanical

decompensation. Regarding causation, Dr. Robbins stated:

The patient demonstrates muscle reaction to injury that can come from a

range of motion in spine that exceeded [its] intrinsic flexibility. Whether

from an acute event or incremental repeat irritations, it has left the patient

in a state of protective response to the painful stimulus.

2 Effective August 1, 2015 Rule 3.0500 has been amended and is now codified, in substantially similar form, as Rule

3.1100.

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  1. As treatment for Claimant’s symptoms, Dr. Robbins recommended home exercises, ice

and a short course of physical therapy. He described his treatment rationale in this way:

Desensitizing the patient through creating a more normal range of motion

and understanding of good vs. bad pain as long as there is no pathologic

problem (so far not detected), will be the thrust of the initial treatment.

  1. As for work capacity, consistent with Ms. Clark’s prior determination, Dr. Robbins as

well indicated that Claimant was capable of working full duty, without restrictions.

  1. I find Dr. Robbins’ analysis credible in all respects, particularly regarding his treatment

rationale. At hearing, Claimant voiced an extreme fear of further injury, stating, “I

choose not to work to not hurt myself further.” Clearly, he would benefit from treatment

that is focused in the manner Dr. Robbins described.

  1. On December 9, 2014 Claimant returned to Ms. Clark, again complaining of ongoing

neck pain. Defendant having terminated his employment for performance-related issues

in July 2014, by this time Claimant had been unemployed for approximately four months.

  1. Ms. Clark’s office note was brief, and aside from a cursory notation of tenderness

between Claimant’s shoulder blades, did not reflect any positive findings on objective

examination. Nevertheless, she imposed work restrictions against bending, twisting,

lifting and operating heavy equipment. She also concluded that Claimant would likely

benefit from vocational rehabilitation services. Both of these determinations appear to

have been based almost entirely on Claimant’s subjective report. Thus, Ms. Clark noted,

“[Claimant] feels that this injury has caused him a degree of disability and he is no [sic]

unable to perform the type of work he did previously as a mechanic technician,” and later

in her report, “he feels due to the ongoing neck pain he is unable to perform heavy lifting

anymore.”

  1. Given that Claimant had not undergone any curative treatment whatsoever at the time of

Ms. Clark’s evaluation, I find premature her recommendation that he pursue vocational

rehabilitation. Similarly, I find that her decision to impose work restrictions that were

neither clearly delineated nor objectively supported significantly weakens her

determination as to work capacity.

  1. At Defendant’s request, on September 25, 2015 Claimant underwent an independent

medical examination with Dr. Boucher. Dr. Boucher diagnosed myofascial pain, which

in his opinion was not causally related to the alleged February 22, 2013 work injury.

Central to his analysis was the fact that Claimant neither reported nor exhibited any

symptoms of neck pain or injury when his primary care provider examined him in May

2013, Finding of Fact No. 9 supra, and did not complain of neck pain to any medical

provider until almost a year after his injury. From this Dr. Boucher concluded that

Claimant’s neck pain must have developed at some point during the intervening months,

likely as a consequence of age-related degenerative changes in his cervical spine.

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  1. Given the negative findings noted on his primary care provider’s May 2013 examination,

Dr. Boucher determined that even if Claimant had suffered a work-related neck injury in

February 2013, it must have resolved by May. On those grounds, he concluded that

Claimant had reached an end medical result, with no permanent impairment and no need

for additional medical treatment. As for work capacity, Dr. Boucher found “no objective

reason for any work restrictions.”

  1. At hearing, Claimant disputed Dr. Boucher’s analysis. He theorized that the reason the

May 2013 medical record did not reflect any signs or symptoms of neck pain may have

been because he was focused on another medical issue that was of greater concern to him

at the time. He denied ever having suffered from, or treated for, neck pain in the past, an

assertion that the medical records and the witnesses who testified on his behalf (his

mother, Ms. VonHaggin, his friend, Mr. Jones-Fote, and another acquaintance, Nicole

Stagnitti) all corroborated. Notwithstanding the delay in seeking treatment, he credibly

testified that he has been experiencing worsening neck pain ever since the February 2013

snowmobile incident. Again, Ms. VonHaggin, Mr. Jones-Fote and Ms. Stagnitti all

credibly corroborated this testimony.

  1. I find that the mere fact that the May 2013 medical record does not note any positive

cervical findings does not justify Dr. Boucher’s conclusion that Claimant’s neck injury

must have resolved by then. To the contrary, based on both Claimant’s and his

corroborating witnesses’ credible testimony, I find that he likely was continuing to

experience symptoms causally related to the February 2013 snowmobile incident at that

time. For that reason, and given that he had not undertaken any treatment at all by that

date, I find unpersuasive Dr. Boucher’s determinations as to both end medical result and

the need for additional treatment.

  1. As for Dr. Boucher’s determination that Claimant was able to work without restrictions,

consistent with my ruling on Defendant’s previously filed Motion for Summary

Judgment, n.1 supra, I concur that this was the case at least up until December 9, 2014.

The only evidence of work capacity after that comes from Ms. Clark’s note of that date,

which imposed generalized restrictions with little if any objective support, Finding of

Fact No. 23 supra. I have already found her determination unpersuasive on those

grounds, Finding of Fact No. 24 supra.

  1. Presumably due to lack of funds, Claimant has not sought any treatment for his neck pain

since Ms. Clark’s December 2014 evaluation. Aside from a few odd jobs, he has not

worked since Defendant terminated his employment in July 2014. For a time thereafter,

he applied for and received unemployment compensation, and in conjunction with those

benefits he conducted a job search, which proved unsuccessful. Given the extent of his

self-perceived functional restrictions and extreme fear of reinjury, I find that these efforts

were likely quite limited.

7

  1. On a typical day, Claimant awakens, has breakfast, and then drives to a friend’s house to

“hang out,” play with remote control cars and talk. He spends considerable time on his

computer, researching legal issues related to his workers’ compensation claim. He is able

to drive, sit and walk, albeit with constant nagging neck pain. He can lift a gallon of

milk, but described a sharp shooting pain when attempting to lift heavier objects, such as

the “suitcase” containing his workers’ compensation documents. During the formal

hearing, which lasted for almost three hours, he appeared to sit comfortably and did not

exhibit any plainly visible pain behaviors.

Procedural History

  1. Although the record is not entirely clear, it appears that on or about March 14, 2014

Claimant filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits with the State of New York

Workers’ Compensation Board. In response, on March 17, 2014 the Board mailed a

“Notice of Case Assembly” to both parties, in which it requested further information

from each of them. It does not appear from the record that Claimant responded to this

request.

  1. Defendant’s human resources manager, Ms. Bourassa, responded to the Board’s request

by letter dated March 27, 2014. In it, she stated that Defendant was reporting Claimant’s

claim as a “Negative Report of Injury.” Ms. Bourassa referenced Claimant’s November

2013 conversation with Mr. Munson as the date when Defendant first became aware of

Claimant’s claimed work injury, Finding of Fact No. 12 supra. Citing Defendant’s injury

reporting policy, Finding of Fact No. 14 supra, she stated, “We (Ronnie’s [Cycle Sales of

Bennington, Inc.] management and Human Resources) advised [Claimant] to seek

medical attention on his own accord because the claim was not made available at time of

the incident.”

  1. Concurrent with its response to the State of New York Workers’ Compensation Board,

Defendant completed a Vermont First Report of Injury (Form 1), and filed it with the

Department on or about March 31, 2014. Attached to the filing was a copy of Ms.

Bourassa’s March 27th correspondence to the State of New York Workers’ Compensation

Board.

  1. Defendant filed its Denial of Workers’ Compensation Benefits by Employer or Carrier

(Form 2) on or about April 10, 2014. It cited various grounds for denying Claimant’s

claim, including that he had failed to give timely notice of his injury under 21 V.S.A.

  • 656 and also that he had not produced sufficient medical evidence to substantiate that

his injury was work-related.3

  1. Claimant appealed Defendant’s claim denial by way of a Notice and Application for

Hearing (Form 6), filed on September 22, 2014 and supplemented on January 23, 2015.

After informal dispute resolution efforts failed, the claim was forwarded to the formal

hearing docket.

3 Defendant also questioned whether Vermont had jurisdiction over Claimant’s claim, given that he already had filed

a claim for benefits in New York. It appears to have abandoned this defense, presumably because Claimant did not

pursue his New York claim.

8

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW:

  1. In workers’ compensation cases, the claimant has the burden of establishing all facts

essential to the rights asserted. King v. Snide, 144 Vt. 395, 399 (1984). He or she must

establish by sufficient credible evidence the character and extent of the injury as well as

the causal connection between the injury and the employment. Egbert v. The Book Press,

144 Vt. 367 (1984). There must be created in the mind of the trier of fact something

more than a possibility, suspicion or surmise that the incidents complained of were the

cause of the injury and the resulting disability, and the inference from the facts proved

must be the more probable hypothesis. Burton v. Holden Lumber Co., 112 Vt. 17 (1941);

Morse v. John E. Russell Corp., Opinion No. 40-92WC (May 7, 1993).

  1. Claimant here seeks a determination that he suffered a compensable work-related neck

injury while moving a snowmobile on or about February 22, 2013. As a consequence of

that injury, he seeks indemnity, medical and vocational rehabilitation benefits.

  1. I have already found credible Claimant’s testimony as to the timing of his neck injury and

the manner in which it occurred. I also have found credible Ms. Clark’s determination

that the symptoms he experienced subsequently were causally related to the February

2013 snowmobile incident as he described it. I thus conclude that his neck injury arose

out of and in the course of his employment, and is therefore compensable.

  1. Defendant asserts that even if the injury occurred as Claimant says it did, his claim for

benefits should be barred for failure to give timely notice to his employer, as required

under 21 V.S.A. §656(a). That statute states:

  • 656. – Notice of injury and claim for compensation

(a) A proceeding under the provisions of this chapter for compensation

shall not be maintained unless a notice of the injury has been given to the

employer as soon as practicable after the injury occurred, and unless a

claim for compensation with respect to an injury has been made within six

months after the date of the injury.

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  1. Section 656(a) must be read in conjunction with §660(a), however, which states:
  • 660. Sufficiency of notice of injury.

(a) A notice given under the provisions of this chapter shall not be held

invalid or insufficient by reason of any inaccuracy in stating the time,

place, nature or cause of the injury, or otherwise, unless it is shown that

the employer was in fact misled to the injury as a result of the inaccuracy.

Want of or delay in giving notice, or in making a claim, shall not be a bar

to proceedings under the provisions of this chapter, if it is shown that the

employer, the employer’s agent, or representative had knowledge of the

accident or that the employer has not been prejudiced by the delay or

want of notice (emphasis added).

  1. Notably, the “knowledge” that §660(a) requires in order to excuse what would otherwise

be an untimely notice under §656(a) is not of the injury itself, but rather of the

“accident.” In the workers’ compensation context, an “accident” is defined as an

“unlooked-for mishap or . . . untoward event which is not expected or designed.”

Campbell v. Heinrich Savelberg, Inc., 139 Vt. 31, 35 (1980) (internal citations omitted).

  1. Reading both sections together, while §656(a) thus imposes a six-month deadline by

which an employee must notify his or her employer of a claimed work-related injury,

  • 660(a) allows for the deadline to be waived if the employer was already aware of the

circumstances giving rise to it.

  1. The “accident” here consisted of Claimant’s and Mr. Munson’s attempt to unload a

snowmobile from Defendant’s truck on or about February 22, 2013. Although Mr.

Munson no longer recalls the incident, as he was an active participant in the event I

conclude that he knew of its occurrence at the time. Mr. Munson was both Claimant’s

direct supervisor and his liaison to Defendant’s human resources manager for injury

reporting purposes, and therefore it is reasonable to impute his knowledge to Defendant.

I thus conclude that the “knowledge of the accident” requirement has been satisfied.

Claimant’s failure to give notice of his injury within six months is excused under

  • 660(a).
  1. Claimant also meets the second ground for excusing his failure to give timely notice

under §660 – that Defendant has not been prejudiced by the delay. In the workers’

compensation context, for an injured worker to establish the absence of prejudicial delay

typically requires a showing first, “that the employer was not hampered in making its

factual investigation and preparing its case, and second, by showing that the claimant’s

injury was not aggravated by reason of the employer’s inability to provide early medical

diagnosis and treatment. M.P. v. NSK Steering Systems America, Inc., Opinion No. 14-

07WC (May 1, 2007) (internal citations omitted).

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  1. The concept of prejudicial delay thus implies that an employer who has not been given

timely notice of its employee’s claimed work injury would have responded differently

had it only known sooner. Presumably, it would have fulfilled its statutory obligation to

report, investigate and, if appropriate, provide medical evaluation and treatment much

earlier in the process and to much greater effect, such that different results would have

been obtained.

  1. Under the particular circumstances of this case, there is no basis for presuming that more

timely notice would have led Defendant to a different result, however. According to Ms.

Bourassa’s undisputed testimony, Finding of Fact No. 14 supra, unless Claimant had

notified Mr. Munson within 48 hours of the February 2013 snowmobile incident, she

would have reacted exactly as she did, by refusing to report his injury and instead leaving

him to his own devices. No matter when he subsequently gave notice – whether months,

weeks or even just days later – his claim still would not have been investigated or

adjusted properly, and he likely still would not have been offered appropriate medical

evaluation and treatment.

  1. That Defendant imposed on its employees an injury reporting policy that contravenes

both the letter and spirit of Vermont’s workers’ compensation law should work against it,

not in its favor. Under the circumstances, it is entirely appropriate that Claimant’s failure

to give timely notice of his injury be excused, as §660(a) allows. I conclude that his

claim is not barred.

  1. Claimant having met his burden of proving that he suffered a compensable neck injury as

a consequence of the February 2013 snowmobile incident, it remains to determine the

extent to which he has proven his entitlement to medical, indemnity and/or vocational

rehabilitation benefits.

  1. Consistent with Dr. Robbins’ and Ms. Clark’s evaluations, I conclude that Claimant

likely suffered a soft tissue and posterior element cervical spine injury, which has

resulted in ongoing neck pain. As he has undergone almost no focused treatment to date,

I further conclude that he has not yet reached an end medical result for his injury. Given

the significant gap in time since he was last examined, I anticipate that he will need to

undergo additional primary care and/or orthopedic evaluations prior to developing an

updated treatment plan. Nurse case management services may assist in allaying his fear

of re-injury so that he can be appropriately compliant with treatment recommendations.

So long as the treatments proposed are reasonable under 21 V.S.A. §640(a), Defendant

will be obligated to pay for them.

  1. It is premature to speculate whether Claimant will be entitled to permanent partial

disability compensation referable to his work injury, as he has not even resumed

treatment, much less reached an end medical result. In accordance with Workers’

Compensation Rule 10.1200, when he does so Defendant will be obligated to investigate

the extent, if any, of his permanent impairment and pay benefits accordingly.

11

  1. I have previously determined that Claimant is not entitled to temporary wage replacement

benefits for any period of time prior to December 9, 2014. Vohnoutka v. Ronnie’s Cycle

Sales of Bennington, Inc., Opinion No. 01-16WC (January 25, 2016). As for the period

of time from that date forward, I have found unpersuasive Ms. Clark’s determination of

disability, either total or partial. I therefore conclude that Claimant has failed to establish

his entitlement to temporary disability benefits at this time.

  1. Whether Claimant can produce sufficient credible evidence of temporary disability from

this date forward remains to be seen. As he resumes treatment, it may be reasonable for

him to undergo a functional capacity evaluation so that the extent, if any, of his current

disability can be objectively determined. Even so, the fact remains that he was able to

work full time and full duty for more than a year after his injury occurred, and only

stopped working when his employment terminated for unrelated reasons. Under those

circumstances, it may be difficult for him to establish a causal connection between his

compensable injury and any current disability, whether total or partial. In any event, this

issue is not before me now. Should Claimant wish to make a claim for such benefits in

the future, he should notify Defendant and if necessary, pursue informal dispute

resolution procedures.

  1. Similarly, I conclude from the credible evidence that Claimant has failed to establish his

entitlement to vocational rehabilitation services. With resumed treatment and formal

functional capacity testing, his need for these services will likely be clarified. But again,

under the circumstances it may be difficult for him to establish the required causal link

between his work injury and any current vocational limitations.

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ORDER:

Based on the foregoing, Defendant is hereby ORDERED to pay:

  1. All reasonable medical services and supplies referable to treatment of Claimant’s

compensable soft tissue and posterior element cervical spine injury with resulting

cervicalgia, in accordance with 21 V.S.A. §640(a); and

  1. To the extent that upon reaching an end medical result Claimant is determined to have

suffered a ratable permanent impairment referable to his compensable soft tissue and

posterior element cervical spine injury with resulting cervicalgia, permanent partial

disability benefits in accordance with 21 V.S.A. §648.

DATED at Montpelier, Vermont this 7th day of November 2016.

_____________________

Anne M. Noonan

Commissioner

Appeal:

Within 30 days after copies of this opinion have been mailed, either party may appeal questions

of fact or mixed questions of law and fact to a superior court or questions of law to the Vermont

Supreme Court. 21 V.S.A. §§670, 672.

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