Court Case Update, Oregon—November 2019
On October 30, 2019, in Simi v. LTI, Inc.-Lynden, Inc., the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that the cumulative effects of a claimant’s separate work-related injuries sustained over a several year period, qualifies as an occupational disease under statute ORS 656.802(1)(a)(C).
The court reasoned that neither the statute’s text nor the legislative history shows that occupational disease claims are only intended for microtraumas or physical overuse of a body part. The court found that the statutory definition of an occupational disease, which includes “a series of traumatic events or occurrences,” is broad enough to encompass a series of injuries. It further stated that “if the medical evidence persuades the board that a disease was caused by the cumulative effect of a series of work-related injuries, then the disease itself is also work-related and compensable.”
Notably, the court concluded that the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board (Board) erred in determining that the claimant could establish an occupational disease only through proof that his “general work activities” contributed to his condition. The decision counters the longstanding standard used by the Board that “general work activities” must have contributed to the onset or worsening of the condition to qualify as an occupational disease.
This decision could be appealed. NCCI will monitor for further developments.
For more information on other cases monitored by NCCI's Legal Division, visit previous
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