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Commission erred in deeming pregnant worker recovered: Court


An Ohio appellate court ruled that the state Industrial Commission erred in deeming a worker to be at maximum medical improvement when her treatment was stopped because of pregnancy.

Johnel M. Foster was working for Staffing Solutions Inc. in Columbus when she slipped on ice and fell at work in January 2019, according to documents in State ex rel. Foster v. Industrial Commission, filed Dec. 2 in the Court of Appeals for the 10th District of Ohio in Columbus.

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation allowed Ms. Foster’s claim for a cervical spine sprain, a shoulder joint sprain and a rotator cuff tear. She began receiving temporary total disability benefits.

In September 2019, a doctor who examined Ms. Foster, who was then pregnant, said she had reached MMI since her treatment was on hold due to her pregnancy. The BWC then filed a motion to terminate Ms. Foster’s benefits.

In December 2019, a district hearing officer concluded that he did not have jurisdiction to consider the termination of benefits because no request for it was pending. Ms. Foster then filed a request to obtain additional benefits.

In February 2020, a staff hearing officer terminated Ms. Foster’s claim. After the Industrial Commission declined to consider further administrative appeals, she filed a petition for mandamus relief.

A judge with the appeals court recommended that the writ be granted, explaining that the doctor stated in the record that Ms. Foster would need to resume treatment postpartum.

WorkCompCentral is a sister publication of Business Insurance. More stories here.