IN THE MATTER OF THE WORKER'S COMPENSATION CLAIM OF: MARY LEIB, Appellant (Petitioner),
STATE OF WYOMING, ex rel., DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SERVICES, WORKERS' COMPENSATION DIVISION, Appellee (Respondent).
from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable
Catherine R. Rogers, Judge.
Representing Appellant: Ethelyn (Lynn) Boak, Cheyenne,
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General;
John D. Rossetti, Deputy Attorney General; Michael J. Finn,
Senior Assistant Attorney General; Samantha Caselli,
Assistant Attorney General.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Appellant, Mary Leib, sought benefits from the Wyoming
Workers' Compensation Division after she developed
abscesses in her breasts. The Division denied the claim. Ms.
Leib requested a contested case hearing, and the Medical
Commission upheld the Division's determination after
finding that she had not met her burden of proving that her
condition was related to her employment. Ms. Leib appealed to
the district court, which affirmed the Medical
Commission's order. She challenges the district
court's decision in this appeal. We affirm.
Ms. Leib presents the following issues:
1. Did the Medical Commission in effect increase
Appellant's burden of proof to an unsustainable standard
of medical certainty by requiring the Appellant to identify
the bacteria that caused her infection?
2. Did the Medical Commission give undue weight to the
Division's expert witness?
Ms. Leib was employed as a maintenance worker for Laramie
County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She began
working on the grounds of the College in April 2012. As part
of her duties as a groundskeeper, Ms. Leib was required to
work with dirt that was mixed with untreated manure from
livestock kept on campus and from traveling circus animals.
In June 2012, approximately two weeks after she began
planting flowers using the dirt and manure mixture, Ms. Leib
experienced pain and swelling in both of her breasts. On June
18, she sought treatment at the emergency room. Ms. Leib was
diagnosed with mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue,
and treated with antibiotics and pain medication.
Ms. Leib went back to work and continued to experience pain
and swelling in her breasts. She returned to the emergency
room on June 26 and was admitted to the hospital. This time,
a breast surgeon performed an incision surgery to drain the
abscesses in Ms. Leib's breasts and relieve swelling. A
culture collected following her surgery indicated that Ms.
Leib had a peptostreptococcus (commonly referred to as
"strep") bacterial infection.
Ms. Leib returned to work on July 9 and continued to plant
flowers with the dirt and manure mixture. Several weeks
later, her breasts swelled again, causing her surgical
incisions to split open. On August 8, 2012, she filed an
injury report with the Workers' Compensation Division.
She had a second incision and drainage surgery one week
later. A subsequent culture indicated that several different
types of peptostreptococcus bacteria were present.
In September 2012, the Workers' Compensation Division
denied Ms. Leib's claim for benefits. The Division found
that her infections did not meet the definition of
"injury" under the worker's compensation
statutes and that she had not established her infections were
the result of her employment. The Division referred the case
to the Office of Administrative Hearings for a contested case
hearing. The parties agreed that the case presented a
medically complex issue, and the OAH transferred the case to
the Medical Commission for a hearing.
The Medical Commission held a contested case hearing on June
6, 2014. Ms. Leib's theory of her injury was that she
developed her infection as a result of exposure to bacteria
contained in the dirt and manure mixture at LCCC. Ms. Leib
presented expert testimony via deposition from Dr. Howard
Willis, a primary care physician and ER doctor. He testified
that Ms. Leib's infection most likely occurred in the
context of her employment. Dr. Willis' testimony was
disputed by expert testimony from Dr. Mark Dowell, an