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Martin County Coal Co./Pilgrim Mining Co. v. Goble

Supreme Court of Kentucky

December 18, 2014

MARTIN COUNTY COAL CO./PILGRIM MINING CO., APPELLANT
v.
WILLIAM GOBLE; HON. DOUGLAS WAYNE GOTT, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE; AND WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD, APPELLEES

Released for Publication January 8, 2015.

ON APPEAL FROM COURT OF APPEALS. CASE NO. 2012-CA-000844-WC. WORKERS' COMPENSATION NO. 10-WC-01405.

FOR APPELLANT: Thomas Clarke Donkin.

FOR APPELLEE: John Earl Hunt.

OPINION

Page 363

KELLER, JUSTICE.

The Administrative Law Judge (the ALJ) awarded William Goble (Goble) permanent partial disability income and medical expense benefits based on a finding that Goble suffered low back and psychological injuries and related permanent impairment ratings.[1] The Workers' Compensation Board (the Board) and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Martin County Coal Co. (Martin County) does not contest the ALJ's award of benefits to Goble related to his low-back injury; however, it contends that the ALJ abused his discretion when he found that Goble has a permanent psychological impairment rating. Goble argues to the contrary. For the following reasons, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND.

The parties do not dispute the underlying facts. Goble suffered a work-related back injury on August 3, 2009. Since that injury, Goble has undergone conservative medical care, consisting primarily of medication and self-directed exercise. Despite that treatment, Goble consistently complained of ongoing low back pain with radiation into his right lower extremity. In addition to his physical complaints, Goble complained of depression and anxiety related to his back injury. Goble has not received any treatment for his psychological complaints.

Goble timely filed a claim asserting that he suffered a low-back injury on August 3, 2009. He subsequently amended his

Page 364

claim, asserting that he also suffered a psychological injury. The parties fully litigated Goble's claims, filing numerous medical reports and records regarding his physical injury and two evaluations regarding his psychological injury. After reviewing the evidence, the ALJ concluded that Goble has a 12% permanent impairment rating - 7% related to his low back injury and 5% related to his psychological injury - and awarded benefits accordingly. Martin County does not dispute the ALJ's award of benefits related to Goble's physical injury; therefore, we only summarize the evidence related to Goble's psychological injury in detail below.

Goble filed the November 9, 2010, report from Eric Johnson, Ph.D. Dr. Johnson noted that Goble complained of constant depression, irritability, a lack of energy and motivation, difficulty concentrating and remembering, and a general lack of interest in all activities. Goble attributed these complaints to his decreased ability to engage in normal daily activities because of his pain.

Dr. Johnson's testing revealed a high average IQ, intact remote memory, good ability to concentrate, intact abstract and common sense reasoning, and evidence of depression and somatization. Dr. Johnson made a diagnosis of pain disorder associated with psychological factors and back pain, and he assigned Goble a 67 on the Global Assessment of Functioning scale. As to Goble's prognosis, Dr. Johnson stated that Goble's recovery depended on the success of future medical ...


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