May 29, 2009
WAYNE GARRISON, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
CROSS ROADS SALES, INC. T/A CROSS ROADS, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT.
On appeal from the Department of Labor, Division of Workers' Compensation, Docket No. 2005-9962.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted January 6, 2009
Before Judges Parker and LeWinn.
In this workers' compensation case, petitioner Wayne Garrison appeals from an order entered on January 23, 2008 dismissing his claim petition with prejudice and denying his motion for medical and temporary disability benefits. We affirm.
Petitioner was the parts manager for Cross Roads Sales, Inc. (Cross Roads), a dealer in recreational vehicles. Petitioner filed an initial claim on April 4, 2005 for neck and back injuries allegedly sustained when he was lifting heavy trailer hitches on August 7, 2004. In January 2007, petitioner amended his claim to include "neuropsychiatric residuals."
On June 7, 2005, petitioner moved for medical and temporary disability benefits on the neck and back claims. After several days of testimony, petitioner withdrew the motion on January 31, 2007. On May 31, 2007, he re-filed the motion with new medical evidence. Additional testimony was taken and on January 4, 2008, the judge of compensation rendered a written decision denying the entire claim.
In the written decision, the judge of compensation made a detailed finding of facts and summarized the testimony given by the various witnesses. The judge found petitioner lacking in credibility:
[P]petitioner's testimony is motivated simply by his desire to recover an award in the workers' compensation matter and also in the two Superior Court matters. The court finds that petitioner's testimony that his neck had resolved itself and that there were no complaints at the time he suffered his alleged new injury in the workers' compensation matter is not credible.
The judge concluded that petitioner's neck injury did not arise out of his employment and dismissed the claim.
In this appeal, petitioner argues that the compensation judge erred in (1) basing her opinion on a narrow issue of credibility; (2) deciding against the overwhelming weight of the evidence; and (3) failing to find that the employer respondent should be penalized pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:15-28.1 and -39.1 because of its "unexplained and baseless denial of the cervical claim as well as the improper termination of the petitioner while he was receiving temporary disability benefits."
We have carefully considered the entire record in this matter and we are satisfied that petitioner's claims lack sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). The judgment of the compensation court is based upon findings of fact which are more than adequately supported by the evidence. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A). Moreover, we are not at liberty to disturb credibility findings made by the trier of fact unless they are clearly contradicted by the record. State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 470-71 (1999); Ferdinand v. Agric. Ins. Co., 22 N.J. 482, 492 (1956). We find no such contradictions here.
We affirm substantially for the reasons stated by the Judge of Compensation, Barbara Berman, in her written decision dated January 4, 2008.
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