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Back injury not compensated: Supreme Court



The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Monday upheld judgments from the State Workers' Compensation Board of Review and Office of Judges that a worker's back injury was not compensable.

The applicant, a Rent-A-Center Inc. assistant manager only identified as CJH, said he suffered a back injury after lifting heavy furniture and appliances in August 2019; treatment notes from that day show diagnoses of back and neck pain, muscle tension, suicidal thoughts and suicidal thoughts, according to documents from C.J.H. v Rent-A-Center, Inc. filed with the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia in Charleston.

The plaintiff later left the emergency room for medical advice, "expressed anger" and threatened his boss, which resulted in the police being called, the documents state.

Medical records state CJH injured his cervix, chest and spine when he was "forced to move a bed out of the van alone" and then had to move a washer and dryer alone, despite instructions from his boss not to do so. Earlier in the day, C.J.H.'s boss, Randy Byrd, had a discussion on "performance issues" with him regarding innocent absences from work, documents show.

Mr. Byrd testified that this was the second performance discussion in three months and that C.J.H.'s performance had steadily declined since the first meeting. Thereafter, Mr. Byrd instructed C.J.H. to wait to move the bedroom suite so he could help, but when he returned the suite had already been moved, which C.J.H. said he did alone. Testimonials from employees documented inconsistencies in how C.J.H. claimed that the injury occurred.

With reference to these inconsistencies, unclear medical records and the time of the plaintiff's performance discussion, the Court of Appeal upheld the lower sentence and denied the claim for compensation.

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