The Guam Daily Post

12 23Sun11292015


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Back Local News Court affirms non-payment of claim

Court affirms non-payment of claim

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THE family of the late Zhenya Quevedo will not be able to get a claim from the Workers Compensation Commission after the court issued a decision affirming the agency’s decision to deny compensation.

In their claim, Tomas and Abra Quevedo asserted that Mrs. Quevedo’s death was the result of the Feb. 4, 2000 fall she sustained while exiting her car and navigating the uneven walkway from the car to her home.

The Quevedos argued that her fall occurred within the zone of her employment and that a substantial cause of her falling was due to a prior August 1993 work-related fall that injured her back.

On July 24, 2001, the Guam Worker’s Compensation Commission   denied the claim and determined that the injury was of a personal nature and not arising out of and in the course of employment.

A formal hearing was held and testimony, arguments, and evidence were received on May 5, 2005. On Oct. 10, 2011, the commission affirmed two prior decisions in denying the claim.

In a formal hearing, a Dr. Duenas testified that the employee had degenerative joint disease prior to her 1993 work action and the arthritic process could have continued to degenerate regardless of the 1993 work accident exacerbating her condition.

The commission’s attorney, William “Bill” Bischoff, questioned Dr. Duenas who testified that Mrs. Quevedo’s obesity worsened her lower back pain and made her likely to fall along with the osteoporosis.

The commission told the court that based on substantial evidence, the employee’s fall in Feb. 4, 2000 was not a direct and natural result of her previous work injury suffered in August 1993.

The Quevedos filed their complaint on May 8, asking the court to reverse or remand for further consideration the commission’s conclusion.

The commission filed an opposition and argued that Mrs. Quevedo was not engaged in work-related activity and that her fall was not a direct result of her back injury and that the agency’s findings were based on applicable law and should be affirmed.

The court ruled that while it is undisputed that Mrs Quevedo’s injury occurred outside her home, there was no evidence that she was attempting to perform any activity associated with her employment as a grant writer at the time of her fall

“The mere showing of an injury at the workplace does not invoke the presumption of compensability found in 22 GCA,” Judge Bordallo said.

The court was not persuaded by plaintiffs’ argument that the claim occurred within the zone of her employment workplace as she was allowed to do her job at home.

“In order to invoke the presumption of compensability, a claimant bears the burden of establishing, first that he suffered an injury and second that the injury occurred in the course of employment or conditions that existed at work that could have caused, aggravated, or accelerated the injury,” the court stated citing the Fagan 2006 case.

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