Opinion:Stripling v. Dept. of Public Safety, 2021 OK CIV APP 11
Subject matter:Workers’ Compensation
Date Decided:September. 16, 2020
Trial Court:Workers’ Compensation Commission (Egan, A.L.J.)
Route to this Court:Appeal of Commission’s order affirming ALJ’s denial of Appellant/claimant’s benefits. 
Facts:Appellant/claimant, a state trooper, filed a claim for temporary and permanent partial disability to the low back. The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS) contested the claim on the basis that claimant’s injuries were caused by exercising and not the result of his employment. Claimant underwent successful surgery on his back and subsequently returned to work. However, the claimant asserts that he is partially disabled on account of injuries sustained from performing repetitive work-related duties. The ALJ entered an order denying compensability and, on appeal, the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission affirmed. 
Standard of Review:Title 85A O.S. Supp. 2019 78(C) provides the Court several bases by which it may modify, reverse, remand, or set aside the Commission’s judgment. With respect to issues of fact, the Commission’s order will be affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence in support of the facts upon which it is based and is otherwise free of error. 
Analysis:While the evidence is that the claimant initially did not report his injury as work-related, “a claimant cannot be expected to be a diagnostician” Esmark/Vickers Petroleum v. McBride 1977 OK 189. The record is also clear that the claimant was suffering from a different injury altogether than was he initially self-diagnosed and attributed to a non-work-related cause. The record fails to provide support for the ALJ’s conclusion that the cause of the claimant’s injury was his initially misattributed cause of exercise. Further, the ALJ failed to correctly apply the “major cause” test as required by the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act. The only competent medical evidence in the record opines that the “major cause” of claimant’s injury is directly related to the claimant’s repetitive work-related duties. 
Outcome:The Commission’s order affirming the ALJ is vacated and remanded with instructions to award the claimant appropriate benefits. 
Vote:3-0. Opinion by Barnes, P.J. Rapp and Fischer, JJ., concur. 
Other: Motion for Rehearing denied; Certiorari not sought.