Morrison Mahoney Associate David Allweiss recently got claims disallowed in a workers' compensation matter. The claimant, a factory worker at a warehouse in Brooklyn, claimed that he had developed arthritis in his knees and hands due to the unheated condition at that warehouse for three years, leading to his hospitalization on February 16, 2016.
This claim was controverted from the beginning, as the employer revealed that he had treated for arthritis previously. The claimant testified that he had worked in the unheated warehouse, and that his treating physician, Dr. Cohen, had told him that this was the cause of his arthritis. However, on cross-examination, he admitted that the “three-year” period that the warehouse was unheated was from 2006 to 2009, and that the warehouse had been heated from 2009 to 2016. The employer witnesses testified that there were several heating devices in the warehouse, keeping the heat between 72-86 degrees Fahrenheit, and that claimant was provided with a jumpsuit for the times he was required to leave the warehouse and operate a forklift. They also confirmed that there was a space heater very close to the desk where claimant normally worked. Dr. Cohen, whose medical reports did not contain the finding of causal relationship that claimant alleged, failed to appear for his deposition. Another treating physician, Dr. Abraham, stated that he was unable to form an opinion as to causal relationship. The IME physician, Dr. Schechter, testified categorically that the rheumatoid arthritis that claimant was diagnosed with could not have been caused by weather conditions, as it is an auto-immune condition.