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Rockwell v. Industrial Commission of Arizona

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department A

July 9, 2013

JULIE E. ROCKWELL, Petitioner,
v.
THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION OF ARIZONA, Respondent, PRESCOTT UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Respondent Employer, SCF WESTERN INSURANCE COMPANY, Respondent Carrier.

Not for Publication – Rule 28, Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure

Special Action - Industrial Commission ICA Claim Nos. 20090-910402* and 20093-080157** Carrier Claim Nos. 0904724* and 09W00260** The Honorable Paula R. Eaton, Administrative Law Judge

Julie E. Rockwell, Petitioner In Propria Persona

The Industrial Commission of Arizona, By Andrew F. Wade Attorney for Respondent

James B. Stabler, Chief Counsel SCF Arizona, By Chiko Swiney Attorneys for Respondents Employer and Carrier

MEMORANDUM DECISION

KENT E. CATTANI, Judge

¶1 This is a special action review of an Industrial Commission of Arizona award and decision upon review by an administrative law judge ("ALJ") denying Julie E. Rockwell additional workers' compensation benefits. Rockwell contends the ALJ erred by engaging in prejudicial procedural irregularities and by finding that her industrial injuries were medically stationary with no permanent impairment. For the following reasons, we affirm the ALJ's decision denying additional benefits.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

¶2 Rockwell was a school teacher. On March 13, 2009, a student who was running in a hallway collided with her, knocking her to the floor and leaving her with "loss of vision, blurred [vision] double vision, severe neck pain" and general soreness. The workers' compensation carrier accepted this claim as compensable.

¶3 On October 20, 2009, Rockwell was again injured at work when shelves and their contents fell off a classroom wall, striking Rockwell's head. Rockwell experienced pain in the left side of her head and jaw, and she had issues with her vision. The carrier also accepted this claim as compensable.

¶4 Rockwell continued to report various ongoing symptoms, including bilateral jaw pain, neck pain, pain across the bridge of her nose, numbness in her left cheek, and some numbness in her fingers. The carrier sent Rockwell for an independent medical evaluation ("IME") on December 18, 2009 by Dr. Leo Kahn, a board-certified neurologist. Dr. Kahn concluded Rockwell's condition as it related to the workplace incident was stationary without permanent impairment.

¶5 The carrier closed Rockwell's March claim effective December 31, 2009 and Rockwell's October claim effective December 29, 2009, finding that neither accident resulted in permanent impairment. Rockwell challenged the termination of benefits as to both claims, and the cases were consolidated for hearing.

¶6 At the subsequently scheduled hearing, the parties presented testimony from Rockwell, two of Rockwell's treating physicians, and two independent medical evaluators. Rockwell described the March and October incidents, what treatment she had sought, and what ongoing symptoms she attributed to the workplace injuries. Rockwell testified twice, once initially and again after the case was reassigned to a different ALJ.

¶7 Dr. Eric Baumann, a physician board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation as well as interventional spine and pain management, testified regarding his treatment of Rockwell following the March incident and continuing after the October incident.[1] Dr. Baumann initially diagnosed Rockwell with myofascial pain syndrome after the March incident. At the hearing, he recommended Rockwell receive one to two cervical epidurals to address her ongoing left neck and arm pain from the March incident. Dr. Baumann expressed no opinion regarding the October ...


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