Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 128 13 I
M. Crystal - M. Christie - A. Grande
  • Adjournment (additional medical evidence)
  • Investigation by Tribunal (whether required)

The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for Alzheimer's disease or other cognitive deterioration resulting from a head injury suffered in a fall, as well for psychotraumatic disability, chronic pain and ongoing LOE benefits.

The Tribunal's Medical Liaison Office recommended that the Panel obtain a report from a Tribunal medical assessor. The worker objected, submitting that the Tribunal generally uses its investigatory function to obtain a report from an assessor only when there is conflicting evidence on a key point or a medical controversy (duelling experts) but that there were no duelling experts in this case because there was only one pre-eminent expert (the worker's specialist), whose professional authority was unimpeachable and who supported the worker's claim.
The Panel noted that there are other doctors who have assessed the worker or considered her case and who have expressed views that are competing or inconsistent with the views of the worker's doctor. The Panel also referred to the Tribunal practice direction on Post-hearing Procedure and the Tribunal Annual Report, and noted that questions to be considered in determining whether a panel might be assisted by a report from a medical assessor include: whether the diagnosis is unclear, whether there is a complex medical problem that requires explanation or whether there is an obvious difference of opinion between qualified experts. The Panel was satisfied that a report from an assessor would assist the Panel in relation to each of those considerations.
The Panel went on to make findings of fact and then referred the matter to a Tribunal assessor.