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Patterson v. Cent. Freight Lines

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division

January 20, 2015

SHELBY PATTERSON, Respondent,
v.
CENTRAL FREIGHT LINES, Respondent, and TREASURER OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, AS CUSTODIAN OF THE SECOND INJURY FUND, Appellant

Page 760

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 761

Appeal from the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission.

Maria W. Daughtery, St. Louis, MO, for Appellant.

Genavieve Fikes, R. Kent Schultz, St. Louis, MO, for Respondent.

CLIFFORD H. AHRENS, Judge. Lawrence E. Mooney, P.J., and Lisa Van Amburg, J., concur.

OPINION

CLIFFORD H. AHRENS, Judge.

Page 762

The Missouri State Treasurer, as custodian of the Second Injury Fund, appeals the decision of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission finding the Fund liable for permanent total disability benefits in favor of Shelby Patterson. We affirm.

Background

Mr. Patterson was employed as a truck driver for Central Freight Lines when, in November 2008, he slipped and fell and injured his lumbar spine while cleaning an oil spill in his employer's warehouse. He filed this claim for workers compensation benefits stemming from that injury. In March 2009, Patterson underwent spinal surgery, specifically an L3-4 decompressive laminectomy and discectomy. The procedure was successful, but Patterson continued to experience pain, incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and difficulty walking. Despite these ongoing symptoms, Patterson was deemed at maximum medical improvement (MMI) in January 2010.

Although Patterson had not previously been diagnosed with any psychological conditions, he had a difficult history: an absent alcoholic father, academic and behavioral problems, years in foster care and juvenile detention, a felony conviction, seven years in prison, and strained familial relationships. As a result of his injury, surgery, and persisting symptoms, he became depressed and was referred to a psychiatrist in August 2009. By the time of the disability hearing in July 2013, he was essentially a recluse, physically unable to " do much of anything for himself" and psychologically incapacitated by depression and anxiety. The voluminous expert testimony about his physical and psychiatric conditions can be summarized as follows.

Medical Experts

Dr. Cantrell, a physiatrist, conducted an independent medical examination (IME) of Patterson in June 2009 (three months post-operative) and became his treating physician the following month. It was Cantrell who declared MMI in January 2010. He assigned Patterson a permanent partial disability (PPD) rating of 30% of the body as a whole (BAW) and released him for sedentary work. Subsequently, Cantrell reviewed additional records revealing a history of back pain and degenerative changes pre-dating Patterson's work injury, causing Cantrell to revise his PPD rating attributable to the work injury to 10%. In late 2010, Cantrell released Patterson for work with a 50-pound lifting restriction.

Several of the experts noted that Patterson seemed to exaggerate his symptoms. Dr. Graham, a pain management specialist, opined that Patterson's physical complaints could not be explained by ...


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