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Verge v. County of Morris

April 5, 1994

LINDA VERGE, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
COUNTY OF MORRIS, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.



Judges Shebell, Long and Landau.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shebell, P.J.A.D.

Argued March 16, 1994

Linda Verge (petitioner) appeals from the dismissal of her claim petition for workers' compensation benefits. The claim was held to be non-compensable on the grounds that her accident was an "idiopathic event." We reverse and remand.

On January 13, 1993, petitioner filed claim petition, number 93-001413, alleging that she "twisted her left knee walking in court house" and suffered a "[p]ermanent orthopedic injury to left leg." On or about February 8, 1993, respondent, County of Morris, filed an answer denying that injury arose in course of employment. Petitioner filed a motion, dated March 16, 1993, for temporary disability and medical benefits, to include arthroscopic surgery on her knee.

A hearing on the motion was held on April 30, 1993. At the conclusion of petitioner's testimony, the judge of compensation refused to hear any further testimony or to permit petitioner's counsel to be heard as to legal argument. The judge immediately rendered the following decision:

This is a Motion for Temporary Disability and Medical Treatment brought by Linda Verge, an employee of Morris County, as a result of an injury to her left knee suffered on December 15, 1992, when as a court clerk in the employ of Morris County, she was walking in the lobby of the courthouse and slipped on the rug injuring her left knee.

She testified that she did not fall to the floor. There was no contact between her knee and the floor or any other object.

She received relatively immediate medical attention at the Morristown Memorial Hospital.

The record of the emergency room has been placed in evidence as Exhibit P-1. It gives a description of the accident as follows: "Twisted left knee while walking in lobby of courthouse."

The symptoms were pain in the left knee.

Petitioner additionally testified that she had a long history of prior injury to her left knee beginning in childhood and it included surgery to her left knee joint in 1985 involving cartilaginous damage to her left knee.

She disclaims any problems with the left knee between that period of time and the incident in December of '92, when she was walking in the lobby of the courthouse.

Petitioner indicates that presently she's in need of further surgery to her knee and requests the Court to authorize same based upon an alleged accident arising out of and in the course of employment on December 15, 1992.

The issue is whether under the circumstances described by the petitioner--and I accept every word of her testimony as being true--whether her employment was a contributing cause to her injury; was the event reasonably incident to her employment.

I am constrained to find otherwise.

Petitioner describes an idiopathic event and not one that can be found to be an incident of the employment. It was an event which could have occurred anywhere at any time. It was an event that which took place in normal walking.

Under the circumstances her claim is dismissed.

According to her testimony, petitioner, a twenty-five-year-old woman, was employed as a court clerk by Morris County and was working on December 15, 1992. She had worked for Morris County for approximately one and one- half months before her accident. Petitioner's testimony concerning her accident and injury was as follows:

Q: What--did something happen to you at the Morris County Courthouse that day? Did something happen ...


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