An appeals court in Delaware confirmed on Wednesday that an injured employee's narcotic painkillers were no longer reimbursable after a two-month withdrawal period.
Zelda Sheppard, an employee at Seaford, Delaware-based Allen Family Foods, received a work injury compensation in April 2011 after a fall that resulted in injuries that caused pain in the neck, left shoulder, lower back, both hips and left bone. Sheppard has been undergoing treatment for pain since the incident.
In December 2019, the company sought to terminate the compensation for Sheppard's narcotic drugs and injection treatment, according to documents from Zelda Sheppard v. Allen Family Foods filed with the Superior Court of Delaware in Wilmington.
The Industrial Accident Board heard testimony from Sheppard's doctors, who examined her three times since 2017. While Sheppard denied illegal drug use, Dr. Brokaw testified that "most" of her urine screens since 2011 had tested positive for marijuana and noted inconsistencies in her statements and treatments that indicate abuse of her opioid medication. Because of this, Dr. Brokaw advocated that Sheppard discontinue her drug use, according to documents.
The Board concluded that the use of drugs had not led to an improvement in Sheppard's condition and agreed with the doctor's assessment that she should be weaned off drugs and grant Allen Family Foods a request to refuse drug reimbursement after the end of the withdrawal period.
On appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the Board's views and judgments and upheld the decision to refuse compensation.