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New York Court Rules Lack of Medical Records Favors Workers’ Compensation Claim

By Staff Report

Oct. 13, 2009


An employee is entitled to an “inference” that her injuries are work-related because Xerox Corp. failed to produce medical records from a work-site facility she visited, a New York appellate court has ruled.


The decision Thursday, October 8, by the 3rd Judicial Department of Appellate Division of New York Supreme Court in Deana Curtis v. Xerox et al. stemmed from a claim filed by a data entry employee who, after 33 years at Xerox, stopped working in 2005 because of severe pain and swelling in her hands, fingers and wrists.


During hearings in 2006, Curtis testified she visited her employer’s “plant medical department” and a workers’ compensation judge ordered Xerox to produce medical records from the visit. Xerox did not produce the records, but the judge ruled later that she had not established that her injuries were occupation-related.


In 2007, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board rescinded that decision and ordered Xerox to produce the records. But Xerox then alleged the records did not exist, court records state.


A series of hearings ensued and the board found that Curtis was entitled to an “inference” that the medical records exist and they show a diagnosis favorable to her.


The employer appealed and the appellate court ruled  that even without the inference, substantial evidence existed to find that the claimant “sustained a work-related occupation disease.”


The court also ruled that despite repeated direction to produce the medical records, the employer failed to do so. Therefore, it was appropriate to draw an inference in favor of the employee, the court ruled.



Filed by Roberto Ceniceros of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.


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