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Cattaneo v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

November 4, 1996

JOHN RAYMOND CATTANEO Petitioner
v.
LIBERTY MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY Respondent/Insurer for SUPERVALU Employer.

          September 27, 1996

          FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND JUDGMENT

          Mike McCarter Judge

         Summary: 62-year old supermarket truck driver suffered broken jaw when tractor/trailer handle hit his face. He sought reimbursement for blender, vitamins, Aleve, baby food, and Ensure, as well as compensation for his injury. He was able to continue working, including overtime, but testified his jaw hurts, particularly in cold weather, and impacts him mentally.

         Held: Issues alleged by pro-se claimant are restated by the Court as requesting medical and permanent partial disability benefits. Where physician recommended soft food, dietician suggested supplementation with vitamins, and claimant's wife described need to blend food, WCC found blender and vitamins reasonable and necessary primary medical expenses. Insurer conceded it would pay for Aleve, baby food, and Ensure. WCC denied permanent partial disability benefits where the record contained no impairment rating and claimant's testimony indicated he has performed his work successfully. While claimant testified his jaw hurts in cold weather, it does not interfere with his employment.

         Topics:

Benefits: Medical Benefits: Primary Medical Services. Supermarket truck driver who broke jaw during employment was entitled to reimbursement for blender, vitamins, Aleve, baby food, and Ensure as reasonable and necessary primary medical services where physician recommended soft food, dietician recommended supplementing with vitamins, and claimant's wife described process of blending food and adding supplements.
Benefits: Permanent Partial Disability: Generally. Although claimant testified his jaw hurt in cold weather, there was no evidence of an impairment rating or that mended broken jaw interfered with claimant's ability to work. Thus, permanent partial disability benefits were denied.

         The trial in this matter was held on August 26, 1996. Petitioner, John Cattaneo, representing himself, participated by telephone. Respondent, Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Liberty) was represented by Mr. Larry W. Jones, who was present at the Court. Exhibits 1 through 6 were admitted and the deposition of Mr. Cattaneo is considered a part of the record. Mr. Cattaneo and his wife, Mary Cattaneo, testified.

         Issues Presented: Claimant petitioned for: 1) "10, 000 or reasonable settlement;" 2) for a determination that the accident was "a preventable accident, not just a normal accident;" and 3) for a determination that he is entitled to "some satisfaction coming for some damage that I have." (Petition for Hearing at 2.) The Workers' Compensation Court does not have jurisdiction to make a determination regarding whether the accident was preventable. The Court recharacterizes the issues as follows: 1) whether the respondent is liable for those expenses submitted by the claimant, and 2) whether claimant is entitled to permanent partial disability benefits.

         Following trial claimant submitted six pages of information, including an itemization of expenses. Liberty responded with a letter indicating its agreement to pay for some of the requested expenses but not others.

         Having considered the Pretrial Order, the testimony presented at trial, the deposition, the exhibits, and the post-trial filings of the parties, the Court makes the following:

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. Claimant is 62 years old and resides in Billings, Montana. Claimant is a high school graduate.

         2. Claimant has worked for Supervalu for approximately 17 ½ years. (Cattaneo Dep. at 15.) Claimant's job at the time of his injury was as a driver of an 18-wheeler, delivering groceries to different grocery stores in various cities. (Id. at 6.)

         3. On February 16, 1995, claimant was injured while in the course and scope of his employment when he was "hooking the trailer to the tractor, turning the handel [sic] to left landing gear, when I released handel [sic] it sprang back hitting me in the jaw breaking it on bothe [sic] sides & knocking teeth loose." (Petition for Hearing at 1, Cattaneo Dep. at 5-6.) Liberty accepted liability and paid temporary total disability benefits and medical benefits.

         4. Claimant suffered "a markedly displaced fracture through the body of the right side of his mandible as well as a nondisplaced fracture through the left side of the mandible." (Ex. 1 at 1.)

         5. On February 16, 1995, Dr. Mackay Hull, M.D., an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, performed surgery on claimant for "multiple mandibular fractures ...


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