IN THE MATTER OF THE CLAIM OF LUCINDA GONZALES, Claimant, v. PUEBLO COUNTY, Employer, and SELF-INSURED, Insurer, Respondent.

W.C. No. 4-748-138.Industrial Claim Appeals Office.
September 12, 2011.

FINAL ORDER
The claimant seeks review of an order of Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Martin D. Stuber dated April 5, 2011, that denied the claimant’s claim for medical treatment for an alleged closed head injury. We affirm.

A hearing was held on the issue of whether the claimant sustained a closed head injury as a result of an admitted work injury to her right knee. After hearing, the ALJ entered the following findings of fact which for purposes of review can be summarized as follows: On December 21, 2007, the claimant sustained an admitted work injury to her right knee while undergoing “Pressure Point Control Training.” As part of the training, an officer locked the claimant’s arms and torso and forced her to a two-inch thick vinyl-covered foam mat on a carpeted floor. The claimant landed on her right knee and felt a “pop.” The ALJ found that the claimant grabbed her right knee and laid back on the mat, but that she did not strike her head on the mat.

The claimant reported the right knee injury on December 22, 2007 and did not report any symptoms of a closed head injury at that time. The claimant subsequently sought treatment for the right knee with the authorized treating physician, Dr. Bradley. The claimant treated with Dr. Bradley through April 29, 2008. The claimant did not report any symptoms of a closed head injury during this time period. On April 29, 2008, Dr. Bradley placed the claimant at maximum medical improvement (MMI) and gave an impairment rating for the right knee. On June 13, 2008, the respondent filed a final admission of liability based on Dr. Bradley’s April 29, 2008 report and also admitted for ongoing medical benefits. The claimant did not file an objection to the final admission of liability.

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The ALJ further found that the claimant did not report symptoms of a closed head injury until February of 2009 after she was informed that she would be suspended for inadequate job performance and it was recommended that her employment be terminated. At this time, the claimant sought treatment from her personal physician, Dr. Birks, who concluded that the claimant sustained a closed head injury when she injured her right knee in the December 2007 work injury. In March of 2009, the claimant requested reopening of her workers’ compensation claim and for the first time alleged that she sustained a closed head injury in the December 2007 work injury to her right knee.

In May of 2009, Dr. Marten performed a neuro-cognitive psychological evaluation upon a referral from the claimant’s personal physician. Dr. Marten diagnosed a cognitive disorder and personality changes due to the history of head trauma. In March of 2010, Dr. Smith replaced the claimant’s personal treating neurologist. Dr. Smith concluded that the claimant suffered a head injury as a result of the December 2007 work injury.

The claimant was subsequently reexamined by Dr. Bradley who concluded that the claimant had not suffered a closed head injury. Dr. Bradley further noted that he had recorded no history of any head trauma or symptoms during the entire time that he treated the claimant. Dr. Bisgard performed an independent medical examination for respondents and noted that the claimant’s “selective memory” with regard to recalling the event was not consistent with a closed head injury in the work injury. Dr. Reilly performed an independent neuropsychological examination for respondent and similarly concluded that the claimant’s reported symptom history was not consistent with the natural history of recovery from a mild closed head injury and diagnosed her with somatoform disorder.

The ALJ weighed the competing medical evidence and credited the opinions of Drs. Reilly, Bisgard and Bradley over those of Drs. Smith and Marten. The ALJ further found the claimant’s testimony to be neither credible nor persuasive. The ALJ concluded that the claimant failed to prove that she sustained a closed head injury in the admitted December 2007 work injury to her right knee and, therefore, denied and dismissed the claim for medical benefits for treatment of the alleged closed head injury.

The claimant now appeals. The claimant’s petition to review contains only general allegations of error and the claimant did not file a brief in support of her petition to review. Furthermore, the claimant failed to provide a transcript of the hearing in connection with her appeal. Under these circumstances the effectiveness of our review is limited.Ortiz v. Industrial Commission, 734 P.2d 642 (Colo. App. 1986).

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However, we have reviewed the order and the record provided and we perceive no error. The ALJ correctly recognized that the claimant had the burden to prove that the alleged closed head injury underlying her request for medical treatment was proximately caused by an injury arising out of and in the course of her employment. § 8-43-201, C.R.S. It was the ALJ’s sole prerogative to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses and the probative value of the evidence, which he resolved in favor of the respondent. See,Halliburton Services v. Miller, 720 P.2d 571 (Colo. 1986). In the absence of a transcript of the hearing we must presume the factual findings to be supported by substantial evidence. Nova v. IndustrialClaim Appeals Office, 754 P.2d 800 (Colo. App. 1988). Under these circumstances we may not disturb the order. § 8-43-301(8), C.R.S.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the ALJ’s order issued April 5, 2011, is affirmed.

INDUSTRIAL CLAIM APPEALS PANEL

_________________________________ John D. Baird

________________________________ Thomas Schrant

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LUCINDA GONZALES, 43 ROYAL CREST DRIVE, APT A, PUEBLO, CO, (Claimant).

PUEBLO COUNTY, Attn: CATHY ICABONE, C/O: HUMAN RESOURCES, PUEBLO, CO, (Employer).

KONCILJA KONCILJA, PC, Attn: ROBERT D. BAUMBERGER, ESQ., PUEBLO, CO, (For Claimant).

DWORKIN CHAMBERS WILLIAMS YORK BENSON EVANS, PC, Attn: DAVID J. DWORKIN, ESQ., DENVER, CO, (For Respondents).

CTSI, Attn: KURT MUEHLER, DENVER, CO, (Other Party).