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Delacastro v. State ex rel. Wyoming Workers' Safety & Compensation Div.

Supreme Court of Wyoming

March 21, 2014

IN THE MATTER OF THE WORKER'S COMPENSATION CLAIM OF: RICHARD J. DELACASTRO, Appellant (Petitioner),
v.
STATE OF WYOMING, ex rel., WYOMING WORKERS' SAFETY AND COMPENSATION DIVISION, Appellee (Respondent)

Page 328

Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County. The Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge.

For Appellant: Robert A. Nicholas, Nicholas Law Office, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

For Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; John D. Rossetti, Deputy Attorney General; Michael J. Finn, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Michael T. Kahler, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

Before KITE, C.J., and HILL, VOIGT[*], BURKE, and DAVIS, JJ.

OPINION

Page 329

KITE, Chief Justice.

[¶1] Richard J. Delacastro suffered a work-related injury to his right hip in 2007. In 2009, the State of Wyoming ex rel. Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Division (the Division) denied, as unrelated to his work injury, requests for testing and treatment of pain in his back. After a contested case hearing, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) reversed the Division's final determination, directed payment of Mr. Delacastro's outstanding medical bills and ordered that one additional test be performed to determine whether his back problems were associated with his work injury. The parties submitted the results of the test, which were normal, and the hearing examiner ordered that Mr. Delacastro was not entitled to further benefits for his back.

[¶2] The district court affirmed the OAH decision, and Mr. Delacastro appealed to this Court. We conclude substantial evidence supports the OAH decision that Mr. Delacastro did not satisfy his burden of proving additional testing and treatment of his back were related to his work injury; however, we clarify that future treatment associated with the original hip injury may be submitted for administrative review. We affirm, as modified.

ISSUES

[¶3] Mr. Delacastro presents the following issues for this Court's consideration:

1. Is the OAH's decision denying all future medical benefits for [Mr. Delacastro's] ongoing right hip and thigh pain supported by substantial evidence, arbitrary or otherwise contrary to law?
2. Is the OAH's decision denying additional diagnostic testing supported by substantial evidence, arbitrary or otherwise contrary to law . . .?

The Division phrases the issue on appeal as:

In 2007, Delacastro injured his right hip, and the Department ruled this was a compensable work place injury. Nearly two years later, in 2009, Delacastro returned to his physician and underwent an MRI to diagnose " back pain." The Division denied coverage for Delacastro's 2009 medical treatment, concluding it was unrelated to his 2007 hip injury. At the contested case hearing, Delacastro argued that he actually injured his back in 2007, not his hip, and this 2007 back injury caused his 2009 symptoms. After ordering further investigation, the hearing examiner ruled that Delacastro failed to meet his burden to prove that he suffered a back injury in 2007 and that this back injury caused his symptoms in 2009. Does substantial evidence support the hearing examiner's decision?

FACTS

[¶4] Mr. Delacastro was the director of human resources at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center. On June 29, 2007, he was carrying

Page 330

boxes of personnel files up some stairs and felt a " tear or pinch" in his right leg. He believed he had pulled a muscle, and waited a couple of weeks hoping the injury would heal.

[¶5] Mr. Delacastro's right hip and leg continued to bother him, and on July 16, 2007, he filed a report of injury with the Division stating that he " was carrying trash from the basement of the HR house up the stairs and felt a pinch in the right hip." He saw Dr. Philip Sharp who diagnosed him with a right hip strain and lateral femoral cutaneous nerve irritation.[1] Dr. Sharp prescribed physical therapy, and Mr. Delacastro attended a few therapy sessions. On July 24, 2007, he ...


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