Norton v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority), 022020 PACCA, 411 C.D. 2019

Docket Nº:411 C.D. 2019
Opinion Judge:P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge
Party Name:Clayton Norton, Petitioner v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority), Respondent
Judge Panel:BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONORABLE CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON, Judge,
Case Date:February 20, 2020
Court:Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
 
FREE EXCERPT

Clayton Norton, Petitioner

v.

Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority), Respondent

No. 411 C.D. 2019

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

February 20, 2020

OPINION NOT REPORTED

Submitted: August 23, 2019.

BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONORABLE CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON, Judge,

MEMORANDUM OPINION

P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge

Clayton Norton (Claimant) petitions for review of an order of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Board), dated March 8, 2019. The Board affirmed the decision of a Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ), granting Claimant's review petition.1 For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the Board's order.

Claimant worked for Employer as a garbage truck driver. On January 9, 2014, Claimant sustained a work-related injury in the nature of fractures to his left femur and fourth and fifth ribs when he was involved in a work-related motor vehicle accident. Employer accepted liability for Claimant's work-related injury by issuing a notice of temporary compensation payable, which subsequently converted to a notice of compensation payable (NCP) by operation of law. On December 27, 2016, Claimant filed a review petition, seeking to amend the description of his work-related injury set forth in the NCP to include, inter alia, depression and the loss of use of his left leg.

Before the WCJ, Claimant testified that, on January 9, 2014, he was driving a garbage truck for Employer along his regular route when the garbage truck slid on the ice- and snow-covered road, causing him to lose control of the garbage truck. (Supplemental Reproduced Record (S.R.R.) at 110b-11b.) The garbage truck slid off the road, crashed into some trees, and caught fire. (Id. at 111b.) Claimant's boss, who lives near the location of the accident, extinguished the fire before the first responders arrived at the scene. (Id. at 112b-14b.) Upon their arrival, the first responders extricated Claimant from the garbage truck and transported him to the hospital by medical helicopter. (Id. at 113b-14b.) Following the accident, Claimant underwent various medical treatments for the injury to his left leg, including multiple surgeries, physical therapy, in-home wound care, and skin grafts. (Id. at 114b-16b.)

At some point following the accident, Claimant returned to work for Employer in a light-duty position that Employer had created for him in the maintenance shop keeping track of parts and work orders. (Id. at 117b-18b.) Claimant performs this position for two hours per day and is able to stand and sit as needed. (Id. at 118b, 124b-25b.) Claimant explained that he returned to work because he was depressed and felt like he had nothing to offer. (Id. at 116b-17b.) Claimant also indicated that, prior to the January 9, 2014 work-related accident, he enjoyed hunting, fishing, and working on classic cars, but he no longer enjoys these activities. (Id. at 120b-21b, 130b.) Claimant further explained that he continues to experience "snapping" and "grinding" in his left knee, neuropathy in his left foot, and a loss of feeling from the front of his left knee down into his foot. (Id. at 122b.) Claimant admitted, however, that he is able to drive a vehicle; walk on both legs, most of the time with the assistance of a cane; and travel up and down steps, but not very easily. (Id. at 125b-26b.)

Claimant presented the deposition testimony of Anthony Grippo, M.D., who is board certified in internal medicine and occupational medicine. (Id. at 32b.) Dr. Grippo began treating Claimant on January 15, 2015. (Id. at 33b.) Based on Claimant's injury and treatment history, Claimant's complaints, and his physical examination and evaluation of Claimant, Dr. Grippo opined that Claimant sustained and/or suffers from a crush injury to the distal femur with a fracture, compartment syndrome, pulmonary emboli, deep venous thrombosis, and sensory motor tibial neuropathy with respect to the left lower extremity, as well as depression. (Id. at 33b-37b, 47b.) Dr. Grippo recommended, inter alia, that Claimant seek psychological treatment for his depression and post-traumatic stress relative to the work-related incident. (Id. at 38b.) Dr. Grippo believed that Claimant thereafter treated with Dr. Lichtenstein, a clinical psychologist. (Id. at 39b.) Dr. Grippo also indicated that Claimant began...

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