Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 965 22
J. Smith - C. Sacco - M. Ferrari
  • Causation (medical evidence) (standard of proof) (heart attack)
  • Death (maintenance of claim by estate)
  • Heart attack
  • Preexisting condition (coronary artery disease)
  • Initial entitlement (eligibility)

The issue under appeal was whether the worker, through his estate, should have entitlement for the cardiac event he experienced on July 11, 2017.

The appeal was allowed.
The Panel found that the cardiac event that occurred on July 11, 2017 was caused, to a significant degree, by the unusual physical exertion of the worker's job duties that day, performed in heat and humidity. OPM Document No. 15-03-10 provides for entitlement for cardiac conditions, when there is "unusual physical exertion for the individual and/or acute emotional stress with no significant delay in the onset of symptoms."
In addition, it was not disputed that the primary cause of the worker's cardiac event and death was asymptomatic coronary artery disease, a condition that pre-dated the work accident. However, in order for entitlement to be established, the work activity need not be the sole contributing factor to the injury sustained, only a significant contributing factor. The Panel determined that, given the totality of the evidence, the heat and humidity under which the worker performed his physically demanding duties on July 11, 2017, were all significant contributing factors in the cardiac event he experienced. As such, entitlement for the cardiac event was established under OPM Document No. 15-03-10.