Weirton Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Powelson, No. 16-0923

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtChief Justice Allen H. Loughry II Justice Robin J. Davis Justice Margaret L. Workman Justice Menis E. Ketchum Justice Elizabeth D. Walker
Decision Date24 August 2017
PartiesWEIRTON MEDICAL CENTER, INC., Employer Below, Petitioner v. PATRICIA L. POWELSON, Claimant Below, Respondent
Docket NumberNo. 16-0923

WEIRTON MEDICAL CENTER, INC., Employer Below, Petitioner
PATRICIA L. POWELSON, Claimant Below, Respondent

No. 16-0923


August 24, 2017

(BOR Appeal No. 2051238)
(Claim No. 2016011777)


Petitioner Weirton Medical Center, Inc., by Peter R. Rich, its attorney, appeals the decision of the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Board of Review. Patricia L. Powelson, by Christopher J. Wallace, her attorney, filed a timely response.

The issue on appeal is the compensability of the claim for a left humerus fracture. On October 30, 2015, the claims administrator rejected Ms. Powelson's claim. The Office of Judges reversed the claims administrator's decision and held the claim compensable in its March 25, 2016, Order. The Order was affirmed by the Board of Review on August 31, 2016. The Court has carefully reviewed the records, written arguments, and appendices contained in the briefs, and the case is mature for consideration.

This Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented, the Court finds no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Patricia Powelson worked as a physical therapy assistant in the physical therapy clinic at Weirton Medical Center. The physical therapy clinic is located across the street from the main medical center building. On October 27, 2015, Ms. Powelson tripped and fell on a curb outside of the entrance to the main medical center building. She was treated in the emergency room at Weirton Medical Center where she was diagnosed with a closed fracture of the left humerus head. That same day, the Employee's and Physician's Report of Injury was completed by Ms. Powelson and Martin Escobar, M.D. The claims administrator rejected the claim on October 30, 2015, finding that Ms. Powelson was not performing a function of her employment when she fell.

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Greg Altman, M.D., treated Ms. Powelson on November 2, 2015. Dr. Altman noted a left shoulder x-ray showed a supraspinatus outlet fracture in the shoulder joint with displaced greater tuberosity fracture. Dr. Altman diagnosed complex three part proximal humerus head fracture. He recommended an open reduction and internal fixation, which was performed on November 3, 2015.

Natalie Beatty, BSN, the employee health nurse at Weirton Medical Center, stated in an affidavit dated March 2, 2016, that Ms. Powelson worked in a facility located at 171 American Way, which was across the street from the main campus of Weirton Medical Center, which is located on Colliers Way. According to Ms. Beatty, Ms. Powelson was injured at approximately 11:15 a.m. on October 27, 2015, when she tripped on a curb outside of the main campus and fell to the ground. She was on the main campus to attend a book fair that was open to the public and to eat lunch at the hospital cafeteria. The injury occurred while Ms. Powelson was on her unpaid lunch break and engaged in personal activities unrelated to her employment with the Physical Rehabilitation Department.

In an affidavit dated March 2, 2016, Clayton Henderson, the Physical Rehabilitation Director at Weirton Medical Center, stated Ms. Powelson's usual work location was located at 171 American Way, which was a building across the...

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