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Smoking caused lung problems, not 11 days on worksite: Court


A man’s 17 years of smoking caused a respiratory condition he asserted in a workers compensation claim was caused by 11 days on the job at an events management firm, handling materials that produced sawdust and debris in the air, an appeals court in Florida ruled Thursday.

Ernesto Blanco, who worked to set up events, appealed a state Judge of Compensation Claims' order denying his claim for workers compensation benefits after the judge “did not find credible Blanco's claim that exposure to construction or cement dust from his job site during his short-term employment with Creative Management Services caused his respiratory condition,” according to documents in Ernesto Blanco v. Creative Management Services LLC/Technology Insurance Co., filed in the District Court of Appeals of Florida, 1st District, in Tallahassee.

The judge agreed with the expert medical opinion that Mr. Blanco's nearly two decades of smoking cigarettes caused his respiratory condition, documented in court records a “probable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” It was also documented that Mr. Blanco used an inhaler and that he had to use it more frequently on the job site.

The judge “had a chance to observe Blanco's demeanor and found that he lacked credibility. He also found that Blanco was an unreliable witness based on the substantially incomplete and contradictory medical histories he provided to his doctors,” according to documents.

On appeal, Mr. Blanco made several arguments, including that the examining and testifying physician was not a pulmonologist. The judge responded with “but Blanco ignores that (the doctor) is a board-certified occupational medicine specialist with extensive experience in exposure cases leading to pulmonary problems,” according to documents.

The appeals court, therefore, ruled that the medical examiner was qualified, writing that it “found no error” in the comp court’s assessment of the claim that pegged causation on smoking.





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