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City of Broken Arrow v. Snyder

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division IV

August 8, 2018

CITY OF BROKEN ARROW, OWN RISK #14157 Petitioner,
v.
GARY R. SNYDER JR., and THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT OF EXISTING CLAIMS, Respondents.

          Mandate Issued: 03/13/2019

          PROCEEDING TO REVIEW AN ORDER OF THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT OF EXISTING CLAIMS HONORABLE MICHAEL W. MCGIVERN, TRIAL JUDGE

          Leah P. Keele, Brandy L. Inman, LATHAM, WAGNER, STEELE & LEHMAN, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Petitioner

          Jeffrey M. Cooper, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Gary Homsey, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Respondent

          KEITH RAPP, JUDGE

         ¶1 The City of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (City), appeals an Order of the Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims awarding compensation and medical treatment to its employee, Gary R. Snyder Jr. (Snyder).

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Snyder is employed by City as a fireman. He contracted thyroid cancer and claims that the cancer was caused by his exposures to sundry cancer causing substances while fighting fires and by diesel from fire vehicles. [1] His date of awareness is March 8, 2010.

         ¶3 The trial court found that Snyder sustained a work-related injury and awarded benefits. The question in this appeal is whether that ruling is supported by competent evidence.

         ¶4 Snyder testified about his work as a fireman and exposures to sundry substances. He did not relate any specific instances of exposure, but spoke of how he was exposed as a matter of course in the types of fires he engaged. He acknowledged that he was provided and wore protective clothing and apparatuses when engaging fires. He had a prior employment, but passed the physical to become a fireman. He also had a second job where he was exposed to hazardous materials.

         ¶5 The parties submitted medical reports. The trial court appointed an independent medical examiner (IME).

         ¶6 Snyder's physician's report recited the work history and the fact of thyroid cancer. The physician concluded that the major cause of the thyroid cancer was the exposures to sundry listed hazardous substances at work. Snyder also presented study documents relating to firemen and exposures to substances and cancer and outlining the types of substances to which they are exposed. These documents do not mention thyroid cancer and these exposures.

         ¶7 City's physician's report also recited the employment history. This physician noted the statutory presumption and continued:

However, the literature as it relates to thyroid cancers would overcome this presumption. There is an extensive report.... Under thyroid cancers are reviewed all the studies related to thyroid cancer and firefighting. According to this study, "There is clearly therefore no consistent evidence to suggest any ...

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