Appeal from the District Court of Fremont County The Honorable Norman E. Young, Judge
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Voigt, Justice.
Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN,*fn1 HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.
[¶1] Steve Hampton, the appellant, was injured in a work-related accident on December 21, 1996. In November 2009, he was diagnosed with a labral tear in his left shoulder. The appellant applied to the Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Division (Division) for benefits, asserting that the injury was caused by the 1996 accident. The Division denied his claim, a decision that was affirmed by both the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) and the district court. The appellant now appeals that decision. We affirm.
[¶2] 1. Was the decision of the hearing examiner to deny the appellant's request for benefits supported by substantial evidence?
2. Was the decision of the hearing examiner to deny the appellant's request for benefits arbitrary and capricious?
[¶3] On December 21, 1996, the appellant was injured in a work-related accident. The appellant was driving a truck up a steep gradient when the vehicle's driveline suddenly gave out. As the truck rolled backward toward the edge of a cliff, the appellant jumped out of the vehicle, landing on his left side. The appellant applied for and received workers' compensation benefits for the injuries suffered in this accident.
[¶4] On the day following the accident, the appellant sought treatment for pain in his ankle, knee, hip, and back. On May 19, 1998, the appellant visited Dr. Stephen Emery to determine his impairment rating as a result of the accident. The doctor's report noted that, although the appellant's left shoulder had decreased range of motion compared with the right shoulder, the MRI "showed no evidence of impingement or rotator cuff pathology." Additionally, the radiology report indicated "no evidence of labral or subscapularis tendon tear." Over the next decade, the appellant received extensive medical care, primarily related to injuries sustained to his neck, low back, and left leg and ankle and was prescribed painkillers to alleviate his discomfort.
[¶5] In August 2009, the appellant was building a dog house with his wife when he experienced a sharp pain in his left shoulder. The appellant testified that this sort of pain was not out of the ordinary since the 1996 accident. Dr. Matthew Gorman treated the appellant and performed an MRI. Unlike the 1998 MRI, this MRI used more modern technology including gadolinium contrasting. Dr. Gorman's evaluation of the MRI indicated a labral tear of the appellant's left shoulder. The appellant requested payment of benefits for the treatment of the labral tear from the Division. The Division, however, denied the appellant's request on November 25, 2009, determining that the current condition of the appellant's left shoulder was not due to the 1996 work-related accident. Following the appellant's appeal of that determination, the OAH affirmed that denial, which was then affirmed by the district court following an additional appeal by the appellant. The appellant now appeals the decision of the district court.
Was the decision of the hearing examiner to deny the appellant's request for benefits supported by substantial evidence?
[¶6] The substantial evidence test will be applied when this Court reviews an evidentiary matter. Dale v. S & S Builders, LLC, 2008 WY 84, ¶ 11, 188 P.3d 554, 558 (Wyo. 2008).
"In reviewing findings of fact, we examine the entire record to determine whether there is substantial evidence to support an agency's findings. If the agency's decision is supported by substantial evidence, we cannot properly substitute our judgment for that of the agency and must uphold the findings on appeal. Substantial evidence is relevant evidence which a reasonable ...