Mesgleski vs. Spes Company February 20, 2016
Submitted by New Jersey Workers Compensation Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
Deference to the Workers Compensation Judge’s Decision making process was also outlined in this case. The court reiterated, as I have in many other cases the Appellate Court’s “reviewability” of the that trial court’s judge’s a) examination of the evidence, credibility findings of the witnesses, and their own expertise in the workers compensation field. The court wrote:
A compensation judge is considered to have expertise in weighing the testimony of competing experts and assessing the validity of the claim. Ramos, supra, 154 N.J. at 598. The judge is “not bound by the conclusional opinions of any one or more, or all of the medical experts.” Bellino, supra, 435 N.J. Super. at 95 (quoting Kaneh v. Sunshine Biscuits, 321 N.J. Super. 507, 511 (App. Div. 1999)). We will not reverse a judgment simply because the judge gave more weight to the opinion of one physician over the other. Smith v. John L. Montgomery Nursing Home, 327 N.J. Super. 575, 579 (App. Div. 2000).
Mesgleski first argues that the award modification was insufficient to compensate him for his increased disabilities. Specifically, Mesgleski takes issue with the compensation judge’s fifteen percent increase in his disability, from forty percent to fifty-five percent. He argues that given the deteriorated condition of his left shoulder, “it is difficult to understand how [he] was only awarded an increase in disability of 15%.” In essence, Mesgleski is asking us to substitute our judgment for the judgment of the compensation judge and make a different finding. Our standard of review precludes such a substitution. The compensation judge’s award of fifty-five percent permanent partial disability was supported by the credible evidence presented at the trial and we find no basis to disturb that fact finding and award.
Second, Mesgleski contends that he presented sufficient medical evidence to establish that his carpal tunnel condition was a work-related compensable claim. Here again, Mesgleski is asking us to substitute our judgment and make a different fact finding. The compensation judge made an express finding that Mesgleski had not carried his burden to prove that the carpal tunnel condition was related to the 1992 work injury. In that regard, the compensation judge found a) that there was no manifestation of carpal tunnel or b) any hand-related problems or treatment during Mesgleski’s employment with Spes Company. The compensation judge also relied on the opinion of Dr. Allen that the carpal tunnel condition was unrelated to Mesgleski’s employment with Spes Company. Given our deferential standard of review, we find no basis to disturb that fact finding, which is adequately supported by evidence in the record.
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