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State of Ohio Ex Rel. Ima J. Wilkes v. Industrial Commission of Ohio and Gahanna Christian Academy

October 20, 2011

STATE OF OHIO EX REL. IMA J. WILKES, RELATOR,
v.
INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION OF OHIO AND GAHANNA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY, RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: French, J.

Cite as

State ex rel. Wilkes v. Indus. Comm.,

(REGULAR CALENDAR)

DECISION

IN MANDAMUS

ON OBJECTION TO THE MAGISTRATE'S DECISION

{¶1} Relator, Ima J. Wilkes ("relator"), filed an original action, which asks this court to issue a writ of mandamus ordering respondent, Industrial Commission of Ohio ("commission"), to vacate its order that denied relator permanent total disability ("PTD") compensation, and to enter an order requiring the commission to reconsider her application and base its decision on medical evidence that properly considers all of her allowed conditions.

{¶2} This matter was referred to a magistrate pursuant to Civ.R. 53(C) and Loc.R. 12(M) of the Tenth District Court of Appeals. The magistrate issued a decision, which includes findings of fact and conclusions of law and is appended to this decision, recommending that this court deny the requested writ. No objections were submitted concerning the magistrate's findings of fact, and we adopt them as our own.

{¶3} In brief, relator suffered work-related injuries. Following a 2003 injury, her claims were allowed for the following conditions: contusion of the right thumb, left shoulder region, left wrist, and left upper arm; lumbosacral sprain; herniated nucleus pulposus L4-5; major depression; and anxiety disorder. In 2010, her claims were additionally allowed for gastro-intestinal complaints/irritable bowel syndrome ("IBS").

{¶4} Following a hearing on September 1, 2010, a staff hearing officer ("SHO") denied relator's PTD application. As to the medical findings, the SHO relied on the medical reports of Richard H. Clary, M.D., and James J. Powers, M.D. Dr. Clary performed a psychiatric examination and made a report dated December 8, 2009. Dr. Powers performed a physical examination and made a medical report dated June 28, 2010.

{¶5} Before the magistrate, relator argued that the commission should not have relied on Dr. Clary's psychiatric examination and report because they occurred prior to the commission allowing relator's claim for IBS. More specifically, relator contends that her IBS is psychological in nature; therefore, any psychiatric report is incomplete without its consideration. The magistrate rejected this argument and concluded that the commission did not abuse its discretion by relying on the reports of Drs. Clary and Powers.

{¶6} Relator submitted a single objection to the magistrate's decision, as follows:

The Magistrate erred when she concluded at page eight "...[r]elator herself is the only person asserting that her gastrointestinal problems are psychological..."

{¶7} In this objection, relator takes issue with a single sentence in the magistrate's decision. In response, the commission argues that, in context, the sentence reflects the magistrate's observation about the psychiatric reports contained within the record, not a rejection of the relationship between relator's anxiety and her IBS. While we do not necessarily disagree with the magistrate's observation concerning the psychiatric reports, for the sake of clarity, we decline to adopt that single sentence. Therefore, we sustain relator's objection to the extent she seeks removal of the sentence from the magistrate's decision.

{¶8} More broadly, relator's contention is that the commission should not have relied on Dr. Clary's report concerning relator's psychiatric conditions because her IBS is a manifestation of those conditions, and her claim for IBS was not allowed until after Dr. Clary examined her. As relator notes, numerous reports in the record indicate this connection between relator's anxiety and her IBS. Whether her IBS is termed a psychological condition or a physical condition, however, the question before the commission was whether, taking all of her conditions together, relator was capable of sustained remunerative employment such that PTD should be denied. Relying on Dr. Clary's 2009 report and Dr. Powers' 2010 report, the commission concluded that relator was capable of sedentary work and, therefore, denied relator's application.

{¶9} We decline to reweigh the evidence before the commission, which is the exclusive evaluator of the medical evidence before it. While Dr. Clary's psychiatric examination predated the allowance for IBS, Dr. Powers expressly considered relator's IBS in his determination that she had a 22% whole person impairment, 10% of which was attributable to her IBS. Taken together, the reports of Drs. Clary and Powers were some evidence on which the commission could rely to deny PTD. Therefore, to the extent relator's objection argues otherwise, we overrule it.

{¶10} In summary, following an independent review of the record in this matter, we sustain in part and overrule in part relator's objection. We adopt the magistrate's decision, including the findings of fact and conclusions of law contained in it, as our own, with the exception of the following sentence on page 12: "Relator herself is the only person asserting that her gastrointestinal problems are psychological." Accordingly, we deny the requested writ of mandamus.

Objection sustained in part, overruled in part; writ of ...


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