Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1704 05
Z. Onen - M. Trudeau - R. Briggs
  • Consequences of injury (altered gait)
  • Issue setting
  • Jurisdiction, Tribunal (over Board process)

The worker suffered an ankle injury in 1981. In 1999, he developed a low back problem. The worker claimed that the low back condition was due to altered gait resulting from the 1981 accident. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for the low back condition.

In a preliminary matter, the worker submitted that the Board had granted health care benefits to the worker for his low back, that the correct issue before the ARO should have been whether the worker had ongoing entitlement to further benefits for his low back and that, accordingly, the issue on this appeal at the Tribunal should be whether the worker had ongoing entitlement to benefits for his low back condition.
The Panel noted that the Tribunal has jurisdiction on appeals from final decisions of the Board. The Tribunal does not have authority to go behind the final decision to address or cure any perceived defects in the Board's decision-making process. The final decision of the Board in this case was that of the ARO denying the worker entitlement for a low back injury as a secondary condition. Thus, the issue on this appeal was whether the worker had entitlement for the low back as a secondary condition resulting from the compensable ankle injury.
There was indication of a limp in the early years after the accident but there was a gap of more than 10 years without indication of pronounced or persistent altered gait. There was a lack of a definitive diagnosis of the low back condition. There was also lack of an accepted medical theory of causation between altered gait and spinal degeneration.
The appeal was dismissed.