Curtis v. Florida Correctional Institute, BM-328

Decision Date26 June 1987
Docket NumberNo. BM-328,BM-328
Citation509 So.2d 1192,12 Fla. L. Weekly 1569
Parties12 Fla. L. Weekly 1569 Kim CURTIS, Appellant, v. FLORIDA CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE and Division of Risk Management, Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Stan W. Strickland of Hurt, Parrish & Dalton, Orlando and Bill McCabe of Shepherd, McCabe & Cooley, Orlando, for appellant.

John E. McLain, III of Cooper, Rissman, Weisberg, Orlando, for appellees.

ERVIN, Judge.

Kimberly Curtis, the claimant in this workers' compensation case, appeals the deputy commissioner's (dc) order denying the authorization of her family physician, temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, the payment of her medical bills during hospitalization, as well as costs, penalties, interest and attorney's fees. We find that the dc erred in rejecting the testimony of the claimant's family physician and treating psychiatrist, who both testified that the claimant's depression and periods of hospitalization were causally related to her industrial accident. We therefore reverse and remand.

The claimant was employed as a registered nurse at the Florida Correctional Institute on August 24, 1982, and, while attempting to administer an injection to an inmate, was kicked on the right side of her mouth and shoulder. The injury was initially diagnosed as a pulled muscle in her shoulder. Several months later, the claimant began experiencing ear aches and pain in her jaw. The pain worsened, and in May 1983, she was diagnosed as having temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), for which surgery was performed in March 1984.

Following the surgery, the claimant, although still working at the Correctional Institute, suffered both continued soreness in her jaw and daily headaches, requiring her to eat nothing other than soft foods. Her continuing physical problems were complicated by certain mental conditions, diagnosed as high depression and acute psychophysiologic distress syndromes. For more than a year thereafter, the claimant's health further deteriorated, despite the treatment given her by several of the employer's authorized physicians.

At length, the claimant, having received no relief from any of the approved doctors, visited her family physician, Dr. Hynick, without the consent of the employer. Dr. Hynick, considering claimant to be suicidal, placed her in a hospital on July 26, 1985, where she was diagnosed as anorexic and suffering from depression secondary to TMJ syndrome. After remaining in the hospital crisis center for nine days, she was released and returned to work, only to be later readmitted for nine days as an outpatient. She was also admitted as an inpatient on December 21-26, 1985.

The claimant requested TTD benefits for her periods of hospitalization, payment of her hospital bills, and the authorization of Dr. Hynick. Both Doctors Hynick and Ballentine, the treating psychiatrist during the claimant's stay at the crisis center, stated in their opinions that the claimant's depression and periods of hospitalization were causally related to the TMJ syndrome she suffered as a result of her industrial accident. The doctors' opinions were rejected by the dc, in view of the evidence introduced by the e/c, showing that the claimant had suffered both from depression and suicidal tendencies before her accident, upon finding that neither doctor was aware of any prior emotional problems.

We conclude that the dc erroneously rejected the testimony of Doctors Hynick and Ballentine. Although the doctors had not, at the time of their examinations, been provided with an accurate history of the claimant's prior psychiatric problems, neither stated that their opinions as to the causal relationship between the claimant's accident and her emotional problems would have changed had they been fully apprised of the claimant's psychiatric history. In fact, Dr. Ballentine testified that he was aware of two prior suicide attempts made by the claimant, but that his opinion would change only if the claimant's prior history differed substantially from the facts that had been recounted to him. Dr. Hynick was even more emphatic. He stated, after being advised of the claimant's history of prior depression, that his opinion as to the cause of the claimant's depression would not change. The medical opinions of Doctors Hynick and Ballentine are further supported by the testimony of Dr. Conley, the claimant's psychiatrist during her period of preinjury depression, who testified that the claimant's treatment had been terminated because he considered her to be in remission and her condition stable.

The dc was in error in rejecting the unrefuted expert testimony. Where the issue before the dc involves essentially a medical question, the dc should offer a sufficient reason for rejecting expert medical testimony, especially if such testimony is unrefuted. Calleyro v. Mt. Sinai Hospital, 504 So.2d 1336 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987); Jackson v. Dade County School Board, 454 So.2d 765 (Fla. 1st DCA 1984); Castro v. Florida Juice Division, 400...

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13 cases
  • Nickolls v. University of Florida
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • September 4, 1992
    ...apprised of the claimant's history. See, e.g., Faucher v. RCF Developers, 569 So.2d 794 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990); Curtis v. Florida Correctional Inst., 509 So.2d 1192 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987); Calleyro v. Mt. Sinai Hosp., 504 So.2d 1336 (Fla. 1st DCA), review denied, 513 So.2d 1062 I think it clear f......
  • Ullman v. City of Tampa Parks Dept.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • September 15, 1993
    ...537 So.2d 1123 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989); Carson v. Gaineswood Condominiums, 532 So.2d 28 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988); Curtis v. Florida Correctional Institute, 509 So.2d 1192 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987). See also, Morey v. Harper, 541 So.2d 1285 (Fla. 1st DCA), rev. denied, 551 So.2d 461 (Fla.1989); Olsen v. We......
  • Carson v. Gaineswood Condominiums, 87-1236
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • September 13, 1988
    ...and suicidal tendencies before her accident--and neither doctor was aware of any prior emotional problems. Curtis v. Florida Correctional Institute, 509 So.2d 1192 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987). This court held that the deputy erred in rejecting the testimony of the doctors, since neither doctor stat......
  • Stacy v. Venice Isles Mobile Home Park, 92-2328
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • April 27, 1994
    ...1153, 1156-1157 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992); Thomas v. Salvation Army, 562 So.2d 746, 749 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990); Curtis v. Florida Correctional Institute, 509 So.2d 1192 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987). Moreover, a claimant bears the initial burden to demonstrate entitlement to temporary disability benefits, eit......
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