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Huntoon v. Borough of Clementon

July 28, 2010

SUZANNE HUNTOON, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
BOROUGH OF CLEMENTON, SELECTIVE INSURANCE COMPANY, AND SCIBAL ASSOCIATES, INC., RESPONDENTS-RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from a Final Decision of the State of New Jersey Department of Labor, Division of Workers' Compensation, Petition No. 2007-11881.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 4, 2010

Before Judges Fuentes and Simonelli.

Petitioner Suzanne Huntoon appeals from an order of dismissal with prejudice entered by a judge of compensation on September 23, 2009. We affirm.

We derive the following facts from the evidence presented at trial.

On July 25, 1994, petitioner began her employment as a part-time clerk with the Borough of Clementon Police Department. In 1997, she became a full-time senior clerk typist.

In 1998, petitioner developed tingling and numbness in her right hand. She admitted that on July 20, 1998, her then primary care physician told her that her condition was probably work-related because of the typing and constant hand movement her job required.

On April 11, 2001, petitioner saw her new primary care physician, Dr. Koerner, complaining about pain in her right hand. The doctor diagnosed plaintiff's condition as "[right] carpal tunnel [syndrome,]" and prescribed a wrist brace.

Petitioner saw Dr. Koerner again on June 12, 2003, complaining about pain and numbness in her right hand. The doctor diagnosed plaintiff's condition as "carpal tunnel [syndrome right] (keyboard use)." Petitioner did not comply with the doctor's recommendation that she consult a hand surgeon.

Petitioner saw Dr. Koerner again on July 23, 2003, complaining of inflammation of her right hand. The doctor again diagnosed her with carpal tunnel syndrome in her right hand, prescribed Celebrex, and instructed her to continue using the wrist brace.

On July 9, 2004, an EMG/NCS study confirmed that petitioner had a severe degree of carpal tunnel syndrome in her right hand. She saw Dr. Koerner on July 13, 2004, and told him that she was "convinced she has [carpal tunnel] syndrome [secondary] to work."

On October 23, 2006, petitioner injured her right hand and arm at work while attempting to prevent files from falling from a drawer. On April 30, 2007, she filed a claim petition for an occupational exposure ("repetitive motion") from 1994 to the present resulting in the development of right carpal tunnel syndrome. Scibal Associates, Inc. (Scibal), the insurance carrier for respondent Borough of Clementon (Borough) for the period January 1, 2001 to the present, filed an answer on the Borough's behalf generally denying appellant's allegation. In its answer, Scibal asserted "all defenses available" under the Workers' Compensation Act [WCA].

On January 19, 2009, petitioner filed an amended claim petition adding Selective Insurance Company of America (Selective), the insurance carrier providing workers' compensation insurance coverage for the period January 1, 1994 to December 31, 2000. Selective filed an answer ...


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