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In the Matter of the Worker's Compensation Claim of: Lana M. Tegeler v. State of Wyoming

April 4, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF THE WORKER'S COMPENSATION CLAIM OF: LANA M. TEGELER, APPELLANT (CLAIMANT/PETITIONER),
v.
STATE OF WYOMING, EX REL., WORKERS' SAFETY AND COMPENSATION DIVISION, APPELLEE (RESPONDENT).



Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable John R. Perry, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burke, Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., HILL, BURKE, DAVIS, JJ., and GOLDEN, J., Retired.

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of any typographical or other formal errors so that correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] Appellant, Lana Tegeler, challenges a decision from the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) denying her Motion to Reopen Case Pursuant to W.R.C.P. 60(b). She sought review of that decision in district court and the district court affirmed. She appealed to this Court. We also affirm.

ISSUE

[¶2] Ms. Tegeler presents the following issue:

Whether the Office of Administrative Hearing's decision to deny Ms. Tegeler's motion to reopen the case is arbitrary, capricious or otherwise not in accordance with the law.

The Division states the issue as follows:

Did the hearing examiner abuse his discretion in denying Ms. Tegeler's motion seeking relief under W.R.C.P. 60(b)?

FACTS

[¶3] Ms. Tegeler injured her neck and shoulder in a work-related accident on October 18, 2008. The Division approved Ms. Tegeler's application for temporary total disability benefits, and she received those benefits for twenty-four months. In July, 2010, the Division received two bills from Central Wyoming Neurosurgery, LLC, in the amounts of $4,357.00 and $189.00, for an MRI and X-ray of Ms. Tegeler's lumbar spine. The Division issued two final determinations denying payment of those medical bills, noting that "This case is only open for the left shoulder and neck injury." Ms. Tegeler objected to the Division's final determinations, and the matter was referred to the Office of Administrative Hearings for a contested case hearing.

[¶4] After the contested case hearing, the hearing examiner issued an order upholding the Division's denial of benefits. The hearing examiner considered Ms. Tegeler's testimony that, two days after her accident, her low back felt like there were hot needles in it and that it was very painful to walk up stairs. She also testified that she could not sit in a chair due to the severity of her lower back pain, and that these symptoms continued for two years. This testimony was consistent with Ms. Tegeler's June 8, 2011 deposition testimony, but conflicted with her testimony at an earlier deposition held on December 10, 2009. In the earlier deposition, Ms. Tegeler made no complaints of low back pain. Additionally, the hearing examiner found that Ms. Tegeler's testimony was contradicted by evidence in the record which demonstrated that (1) she did not complain of back pain when she sought treatment at the Coalition Family Health Center four days after her injury, (2) Ms. Tegeler identified only her neck and shoulder as injured body parts on her Report of Injury form, (3) Ms. Tegeler saw her treating physician six times between November 20, 2008 and April 22, 2010, but never presented any complaints of back pain, and (4) Ms. Tegeler's first report of back pain was not made until June 3, 2010. In light of this evidence, the hearing examiner concluded that Ms. Tegeler's testimony regarding her lower back symptoms was inconsistent and that there was no evidence to corroborate her testimony that she had reported back pain to her treating physician following her workplace accident.

[¶5] Ms. Tegeler appealed the OAH's decision to the district court. While on review in the district court, Ms. Tegeler's appellate counsel discovered documentation of a physical therapy session held approximately one month after Ms. Tegeler's workplace accident.*fn1

That record indicated that she was experiencing pain "in the middle and center of her back" and an "annoyance in her back." She filed a motion in district court to supplement the record with the physical therapy record. That motion ...


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