Sunday, September 13, 2009

Employer Must Pay For Weight Loss Surgery - Indiana Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Oregon

There are a number of stories about this published decision from the Indiana Court of Appeals in the case of PS2 LLC d/b/a Boston’s Gourmet Pizza v. Childers (No. 93A02-0902-EX-176).  The Associated Press reports here that the court "ruled that a pizza shop must pay for a 340-pound employee's weight-loss surgery to ensure the success of another operation for a back injury he suffered at work."  The article continues:
Boston's The Gourmet Pizza must pay for lap-band surgery for Adam Childers, a cook at the store in Schererville, under last month's Indiana ruling that upheld a 4-3 decision by the state's workers' compensation board.

Childers, who was then 25, weighed 340 pounds in March 2007 when he was accidentally struck in the back by a freezer door. Doctors said he needed surgery to ease his severe pain, but that the operation would do him no good unless he first had surgery to reduce his weight, which rose to 380 pounds after the accident.
On August 27, 2009, the Supreme Court of Oregon reached the same result in affirming the lower court.  The Supreme Court of Oregon's decision can be found here wherein they held:
We emphasize that the sole question before us is whether the gastric bypass surgery was "directed to" claimant's current arthritic knee condition, which was caused in major part by his compensable 1976 injury. ORS 656.245(1)(a) does not limit the compensability of medical services simply because those services also provide incidental benefits or help to treat other medical conditions that were not caused by the compensable injury. The fact that the gastric bypass also treated claimant's morbid obesity as a necessary incident of effectively treating his knee condition does not affect the resolution of the compensability of his medical services claim. Because the gastric bypass was "directed to" claimant's current arthritic knee condition, we need not express an opinion as to the classification or cause of claimant's morbid obesity. It is not relevant to the issue before us.


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