FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND
trial in this matter was held on October 14, 1993, in the
Flathead County Justice Center, Kalispell, Montana.
Petitioner, Rosalie Warboys (claimant), was present and
represented by Mr. Allan M. McGarvey. Respondent, Employers
Insurance of Wausau (Wausau), was represented by Mr. Michael
testified on her own behalf. The parties each offered
testimony from a vocational consultant; claimant called Mr.
Dan Schara and Wausau called Ms. Terri Roach. In addition,
the testimony of Albert Joern, M.D. and William Riddel, D.C.
was presented by deposition.
exhibits, including claimant's medical records, were
offered into evidence. Claimant objected to pages 48-51,
56-62, and 101-112 of the medical records, identified as
Exhibit 1, on the ground that the records in question relate
to treatment for conditions which are not related to the
claim in question and are therefore irrelevant. Having had to
read the records to determine their relevancy, the Court now
determines that the records should be admitted but finds that
they have minimal relevance to the resolution of the issues
raised by the petition.
considered the Pretrial Order, the testimony presented at
trial and by deposition, the demeanor of the witnesses, the
exhibits, and the pleadings of the parties, the Court makes
the time of trial the claimant was forty-seven years old.
Claimant was employed in the plywood department of the
Champion (formerly St. Regis) Mill in Libby, Montana for
approximately twenty years. She began work at Champion in
1972 and worked there in various positions until May 31,
she was first employed by Champion, claimant was assigned to
the labor pool and performed heavy labor. Among the jobs she
held was one on the "dry belt," which involved
continuous, very heavy work. The dry belt job requires the
worker to pull pieces of wood six feet long and fourteen to
twenty-seven inches wide off a conveyor belt and stack them.
After approximately four years in the labor pool, claimant
successfully bid on a plugger operator job. Physically, that
job is one of the easiest ones at Champion. The job entails
sliding a single sheet of veneer onto a table and putting in
plugs where necessary, then sliding the veneer off the table.
March 13, 1985, the claimant was assigned to the dry chain
for a day. While twisting to lift a load of wood she felt a
"pop" in her neck. She thereafter experienced a
headache and tingling in her hand.
timely reported her injury and filed a claim for
the time of claimant's March 13, 1985 injury, St. Regis
was insured by Wausau, which accepted liability for the
Following her injury claimant was treated by Dr. Stephen
Hufman, a physician in Libby, Montana. Dr. Hufman diagnosed
claimant's condition as "[c]ompression neuropathy
secondary to working on the belt." (Ex. 1 at 1.) Dr.
Hufman prescribed medication.
Claimant missed work, off and on, for approximately one
month. When claimant was released to return to work, she
returned to her normal position as a plugger operator,
although she was restricted by Dr. Hufman from working on the
"belt." It is unclear from Dr. Hufman's records
whether this restriction was intended to be temporary or
permanent. (Ex. 1 at 1-7.)
Although the claimant sought little medical care during the
two years immediately following her return to work, she
continued to suffer symptoms related to her neck, primarily
soreness and stiffness of the neck, along with headaches. She
was seen in the emergency room on April 25, 1986, a year
after her return to work, for a headache and pain in her
shoulder and neck. Her condition was diagnosed as a muscle
tension headache (Exhibit 1 at 12) and may have been
unrelated to her 1985 injury. However, commencing in May 1987
claimant began chiropractic treatment for neck stiffness and
pain. (Ex. 1 at 13; Riddel Dep. at 4.)
1987 claimant has received numerous chiropractic treatments
from Dr. William J. Riddel. While some of the treatments were
related to a subsequent low-back injury, a majority of ...