Motorola, Inc. v. Industrial Commission, 1

Decision Date14 February 1980
Docket NumberNo. 1,CA-IC,1
Citation608 P.2d 788,125 Ariz. 211
PartiesMOTOROLA, INC., Semiconductor Products, Petitioner Employer, Motorola, Inc., c/o INA/PEG, Petitioner Carrier, v. The INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION of Arizona, Respondent, Arlene O. Bowman, Respondent Employee. 2069.
CourtArizona Court of Appeals
O'Connor, Cavanagh, Anderson, Westover, Killingsworth & Beshears, by Donald L. Cross, David W. Earl, Larry L. Smith, Phoenix, for petitioners employer and carrier
OPINION

JACOBSON, Judge.

The sole issue in this review of an award of the Industrial Commission is whether an industrial claimant's admittedly stationary condition can be rendered unstationary because of the claimant's reaction to a notice of claim status.

The facts giving rise to this issue are not in material dispute. On May 1, 1975, the respondent employee, Arlene O. Bowman, sustained an industrial injury which was diagnosed as a chronic back strain. Her industrial claim arising from this injury was accepted for benefits.

During the course of Mrs. Bowman's treatment she was referred to Dr. Joseph G. Tursini, a psychologist, for an underlying psychological problem. This problem was diagnosed as an underlying personality trait upon which her distrust of her employers operated to produce psychological pain. For treatment of this problem, Mrs. Bowman received biofeedback and drug therapy which resulted in her showing rapid improvement during 1976. On November 15, 1976, Mrs. Bowman returned to work. The psychiatric condition became stationary in January, 1977.

On August 19, 1977, Dr. Horace S. Fuson, who was treating Mrs. Bowman's organic problems, authored a medical report indicating that her physical problems were stationary without any residual disability. Based upon this report, the petitioner insurance carrier issued a notice of claim status on September 2, 1977, terminating Mrs. Bowman's benefits and discharging her from treatment with no permanent residual disability.

This notice was timely protested by a request for hearing and after a false start, hearings were held on March 21 and April 11, 1978. The evidence presented at the hearings showed that while Mrs. Bowman had no physical problems, she was again suffering from severe depression and anxiety. The cause of this recurrence of psychological problems was Mrs. Bowman's reaction to the notice of claim status terminating her benefits. As Dr. Tursini testified:

"Q. But her condition insofar as it relates to the original injury had become stationary earlier, is that correct?

"A. Yes.

"Q. And her reaction in the fall of '77 was the reaction to the job situation notice (notice of claim status terminating benefits), then, not the reaction to the May 1, 1975 incident?

"A. Yes, that's correct.

"Q. And this is part and parcel of her method of reacting, courtesy, I guess, of the preexisting personality trait, is that right?

"A. Yes."

From this evidence it is clear that Mrs. Bowman's mental condition at the time of the hearings was related to the 1975 injury only insofar as the notice of claim status that triggered that condition arose out of the claim for that injury. The mental condition itself was not a sequela of the back injury, but was due to her underlying preexisting personality trait reacting to the notice of claim status.

The hearing officer found in his award that Mrs. Bowman was physically stationary with no residual disability. However, he further found that psychologically her condition was not stationary and that her condition was causally related to her industrial injury. He therefore continued benefits. The employer and carrier have sought review.

It is basically the carrier's position that Mrs. Bowman's reaction to the notice of claim status was an independent superseding event which broke the chain of causation between the initial industrial injury from which she had completely recovered and her present psychological problems which are the result of her underlying personality traits.

On the other hand, Mrs. Bowman contends that "but for" the issuance of notice of claim status which was the result of her prior industrial injury, her condition would not have deteriorated and thus her present condition is causally related to her industrial injury.

In support of her position, Mrs. Bowman relies upon Detjen v. Workmen's Compensation Appeals Board, 42 Cal.App.3d 470, 116 Cal.Rptr. 860 (1974). In Detjen, the claimant suffered from an industrial neurosis caused by emotional conflicts in her employment superimposed upon an underlying personality disorder. The claimant apparently recovered from this neurosis and her claim was closed. Subsequently the claimant filed a petition to reopen during the processing of which she received a letter relating to the reopening. We are not told in the opinion who sent this letter or of its contents. In any event, her reaction to this letter brought on a reactivation of her prior symptoms and she was rendered incapable of working. In holding that her present condition was compensable, the California court analogized the claimant's reaction to the letter to the situation brought about by "compensation neurosis," that is, either the unconscious desire to obtain or prolong compensation or sheer anxiety over the outcome of compensation litigation, producing a...

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7 cases
  • Smith and Sanders, Inc. v. Peery
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • July 17, 1985
    ...to be compensable must have been caused by something more than the ordinary incidents of employment. Motorola, Inc. v. Industrial Commission, 125 Ariz. 211, 608 P.2d 788 (1980); Archer v. Industrial Commission, 127 Ariz. 199, 619 P.2d 27 (1980); Loh Lin v. Burroughs Corp., 427 N.Y.S.2d 78, ......
  • Downham v. Downham, 1 CA-CV 16-0164 FC
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • July 25, 2017
  • Sweeney v. Kerstens & Lee, Inc.
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • October 22, 2004
    ...reliance on opinion to terminate benefits, not compensable consequence of original industrial injury); Motorola, Inc. v. Industrial Com'n, 125 Ariz. 211, 608 P.2d 788 (Ariz. App. 1980) (psychological reaction to notice of claim status not injury caused by event arising out of employment). B......
  • El-Sharkawy v. El-Sharkawy
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • July 19, 2018
    ... ... PATRICIA EL-SHARKAWY, Respondent/Appellee.No. 1 CA-CV 17-0425 FCARIZONA COURT OF APPEALS DIVISION ONEJuly ... ...
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