Issue of Conflicting Evidence

In Tapia, Claimant worked maintenance for privately owned condominium units in a building owned by Employer. In June 2019, Claimant had taken a lunch break in his office when he thought he heard water running. Claimant entered the unit where he believed the water was running, and last remembered setting down his lunch dishes to go investigate the sound in the unit’s bathroom. Claimant testified that the next thing he remembered was being at his desk, bleeding from the back of his head. Before going to the hospital, Claimant said his glasses were missing. As a result, a coworker searched for and found the glasses in the unit Claimant had inspected earlier. The glasses were on the unit’s kitchen floor next to a puddle of blood and there was more blood on the bathroom floor. Claimant was diagnosed with a fractured skill and intracranial hemorrhaging. Additionally, Claimant sustained a black eye.

Through the testimony and evidence submitted, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) determined that Claimant had fallen twice at work: once in the bathroom and once in the kitchen. The ALJ decided Claimant had experienced two distinct falls at work, due to evidence of two pools of blood in the unit. Additionally, the ALJ found that the evidence did not “establish that there was blood on the toilet” in the bathroom. However, upon review, the Industrial Claim Appeals Office (“the Panel”) found that the ALJ’s findings were contradicted by both testimony and evidence. First, blood spatter evidence showed blood on the following surfaces: shelf above the toilet, on the floor, on the underside of the toilet, on a toilet paper roll, on the upraised toilet lit, and on the wall. Additionally, the ALJ made no findings regarding how the black eye occurred or whether it was related to the head wound. Therefore, the Panel disputed both findings made by the ALJ because blood was indeed found on the toilet and the ALJ made no findings regarding how the black eye occurred.

The Panel concluded that findings of fact were not supported by the evidence and conflicts in the evidence were not resolved by the ALJ. As a result, the Panel remanded the matter to the ALJ for a new order to include findings of fact that are supported by the evidence and to resolve the conflict in the blood evidence.

Tapia v. Lowe Enterprises, W.C. No. 5-113-677 (I.C.A.O. Aug. 10, 2020)

 Want to know more? Contact Christin Bechmann at cbechmann@pollartmiller.com or 877-259-5693.

October 2020 Newsletter

2020-11-05T16:02:44+00:00