Occupational claim denied where doctor testifies that complaints are not uncommon for similarly aged persons

James P. Paoli, Esq.

DeJesus v. UPS (2015 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1790)
Decided July 27, 2015
Pursuant to the Appellate Division’s findings,  the Petitioner’s occupational claim was dismissed and a portion of his specific accident claim was dismissed. The Petitioner filed a claim petition against his employer alleging injury to his cervical spine as well as to his ribs as a result of an accident that occurred. Simultaneously, the Petitioner filed a claim alleging that that his cervical spine was injured as a result of his occupational duties as a truck driver.
Subsequently, the Petitioner filed a Motion for Medical and/or Temporary Disability Benefits seeking treatment for his cervical spine under both claim petitions. Relying upon a medical report authored by Dr. Clifford Schob, the employer filed an Answer opposing the Motion and asserting that the Petitioner’s cervical spine was not injured in the accident and that the Petitioner’s occupational exposure also did not cause the injury to the Petitioner’s cervical spine. Ultimately, a trial was conducted and the J.W.C. determined that the Petitioner did not sustain an occupational or accidental injury to his cervical spine.
In upholding the lower court’s decision, the Appellate Division confirmed that the J.W.C. appropriately dismissed the occupational claim and the cervical spine portion of the specific accident claim, as there was sufficient evidence to support the J.W.C.’s findings. In particular, the Petitioner was unable to sustain his burden of proof with respect to either claim. With respect to the specific accident claim, the J.W.C. relied upon Dr. Schob’s findings that the Petitioner did not initially complain of neck pain following the accident and, further, that the Petitioner’s intermittent neck complaints were not uncommon in the general population for similarly aged persons. Finally, the Appellate Division was convinced that the J.W.C. appropriately relied upon Dr. Schob in finding that the Petitioner’s cervical spine complaints were not causually related to his occupation.