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The Supreme Court of Wyoming on Friday affirmed an earlier court ruling that pegged a man’s permanent and total disability on a progressive neurodegenerative disease and not the result of a back injury he suffered at work eight years before.
Peter Hart, who injured his back while working for Solvay Chemicals Inc. in 2005 and was deemed partially impaired as a result, applied in 2014 for permanent total disability after a doctor diagnosed him with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, according to documents in Pete Hart, by and through his Personal Representative, Mona Hart v. State of Wyoming, Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division, filed in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
An earlier ruling found that Mr. Hart failed to prove that his back injury caused his disability, citing testimony from a doctor who found that his disability was likely due to ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and often resulting in permanent paralysis.
"Mr. Hart's current disability status, from the standpoint of an inability to return to his previous level of participation in the work setting, stems more from the recent development of ALS than from injury residual,” the doctor stated, according to court documents. "In my opinion, if it were not for the ALS, (Mr. Hart) may have been able to manage his normal work duties, with chronic pain medications and injections continuing, as that was a successful regimen/pattern over the years."
Friday’s ruling affirmed the state’s Medical Commission’s decision that found a lack of evidence connecting the work injury to the disability.
A worker suffered a compensable head injury while engaged in work-related activities and is entitled to workers comp benefits, according to a decision by the Supreme Court of Wyoming.