NY Appellate Court Sustains Xerox Clerk's Workers' Comp Claim

October 12, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A New York state appellate court has agreed with lower courts that a Xerox Corp. data entry employee should have her workers' compensation claims considered with an inference that her joint pain should be considered work-related.

The 3rd Judicial Department of Appellate Division of New York Supreme Court issued the decision Deana Curtis vs. Xerox et al. in the employer’s appeal of state administrative rulings that Curtis should be able to claim that records of a visit to a company health facility actually exist. Curtis should also be allowed to an inference that the documents would reflect that her severe pain and swelling in her hands, fingers and wrists was related to her 33 years as a Xerox worker, the court asserted.

“Andrew Kane, claimant’s treating physician, consistently and unequivocally opined, both in his reports and testimony, that claimant’s condition was likely carpal tunnel syndrome or severe arthritis which was due to her “very long history of long hours of typing” and that he could find no evidence that her condition was caused by anything other than employment,” the appellate court wrote.

The appellate court also ruled that despite repeated direction to produce the medical records, the employer failed to do so and it was appropriate to draw an inference in favor of the employee.

According to the ruling, a state administrative judge had initially ordered Xerox to find the forms from her company clinic visit. The company ultimately failed to find the records and the judge declared that Curtis had not shown that her ailments were related to her job.

In 2007, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board rescinded that administrative decision and ordered Xerox to produce the records. But Xerox then alleged the records did not exist, court records state.

A series of hearings ensued and the board found that Curtis was entitled to an “inference” that the medical records exist and they would show a diagnosis favorable to her.

The latest ruling is available here .