W.C. No. 3-750-315Industrial Claim Appeals Office.
March 9, 2000
The claimant seeks review of an order of Administrative Law Judge Friend (ALJ) which denied her requests for additional temporary disability, medical and dental benefits. We affirm.
The claimant suffered admitted injuries in 1984 when she fell and hit her chin on a bench. The claimant subsequently complained of neck pain. The respondents filed a final admission of liability on January 11, 1985. Thereafter, the respondents voluntarily reopened the claim. In March 1998, the claimant applied for additional temporary disability, medical and dental benefits due to pain in her jaw and neck. The claimant admitted she grinds and clenches her teeth when she is under stress, and attributed her stress to the 1984 injury. (Tr. p. 60).
Dr. O’Day, who was the treating dentist for the 1984 injury, opined that the claimant’s current problems are due to a non-industrial condition called bruxism. Dr. James agreed with the diagnosis of bruxism. Dr. James testified that the claimant’s symptoms of dental pain are due to the bruxism which in turn is caused by personal stressors, not the 1984 injury. Dr. James also opined that the claimant exaggerates her pain symptoms. Similarly, in a report dated August 10, 1987, Dr. Lewis opined that the claimant markedly exaggerates her physical and psychological problems. Dr. Lewis also opined that the claimant suffers significant distress and depression over her relationship with her husband. Dr. Crosby agreed the claimant exaggerates her pain symptoms. Dr. Crosby further testified that the claimant suffers from no ongoing disability or neurological impairment from the 1984 injury. Consequently, Dr. Crosby did not believe the 1984 injuries contribute to the claimant’s present complaints of neck and jaw pain.
The ALJ found that the claimant’s testimony is contradicted by the medical evidence. Further, the ALJ was not persuaded that the claimant’s symptomatology in her jaw and neck are causally related to the 1984 injury. In so doing, the ALJ credited the opinions of Dr. O’Day, Dr. Crosby, Dr. James and Dr. Lewis and rejected the contrary medical evidence. Therefore, the ALJ found the claimant failed to sustain her burden to prove that her disability and the need for further medical and dental benefits are causally related to the 1984 injuries.
On review the claimant makes general allegations of error See § 8-43-301(8), C.R.S. 1999. The claimant also alleges that the ALJ acted “without or in excess of his powers.” However, the claimant has not filed a brief in support of her petition to review. Consequently, the effectiveness of our review is limited.
§ 8-43-201, C.R.S. 1999, affords the ALJ original jurisdiction to “hear and decide” all disputes arising under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Accordingly, we reject the claimant’s bald allegation that the ALJ exceeded his authority.
Where the claimant’s entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits is disputed, the claimant must prove a causal relationship between injury and condition for which medical benefits are sought. See § 8-41-301(1)(c), C.R.S. 1999; Snyder v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 942 P.2d 1337 (Colo.App. 1997). Whether the claimant sustained her burden of proof is a question of fact for the ALJ. City of Durango v. Dunagan, 939 P.2d 496
(Colo.App. 1997). The ALJ’s factual determinations on this issue must be upheld if supported by substantial evidence and plausible inferences drawn from the record. We have no authority to substitute our judgment for that of the ALJ concerning the credibility of the witnesses, and we may not reweigh the evidence on appeal. City of Durango v. Dunagan, supra; Delta Drywall v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 868 P.2d 1155 (Colo.App. 1993).
We have reviewed the record and the ALJ’s findings of fact. The ALJ’s findings are sufficient to permit appellate review, and the findings indicate that the ALJ resolved conflicts in the evidence based upon his credibility determinations. See Riddle v. Ampex Corp., 839 P.2d 489 (Colo.App. 1992). Further, the ALJ’s findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record, and the findings support the conclusion that the claimant failed to prove the 1984 industrial injury is the proximate cause of her disability and need for additional treatment. Therefore, the ALJ did not err in denying the requests for additional benefits. § 8-43-301(8); Dover Elevator Co. v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 961 P.2d 1141 (Colo.App. 1998).
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the ALJ’s order dated December 3, 1998, is affirmed.
INDUSTRIAL CLAIM APPEALS PANEL ____________________________________ David Cain ____________________________________ Kathy E. Dean
This Order is final unless an action to modify or vacate this Order is commenced in the Colorado Court of Appeals, 2 East 14th Avenue, Denver, CO 80203, by filing a petition for review with the Court, within twenty (20) days after the date this Order is mailed, pursuant to § 8-43-301(10) and § 8-43-307, C.R.S. 1999. The appealing party must serve a copy of the petition upon all other parties, including the Industrial Claim Appeals Office, which may be served by mail at 1515 Arapahoe, Tower 3, Suite 350, Denver, CO 80202.
Copies of this decision were mailed March 22, 2000
to the following parties:
Donna Adducci, 8695 W. 78th Pl., Arvada, CO 80005
Saint Anthony Hospital, 4231 W. 16th Ave., Denver, CO 80204
Laurie A. Schoder, Esq., Colorado Compensation Insurance Authority dba Pinnacol Assurance —
Interagency Mail (For Respondents)
Scott A. Meiklejohn, Esq., 1900 Grant St., #830, Denver, CO 80203 (For Claimant)
Thomas L. Kanan, Esq., 1700 Broadway, #1910, Denver, CO 80290
BY: A. Pendroy