Johnston v. Gordon Trucking-Heartland Express

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Workers Compensation
  • Date Filed: 07-15-2020
  • Case #: A164266
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Hadlock, pro tempore for the Court; De Hoog, P.J.; & Aoyagi, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

"The worker must prove that employment conditions were the major contributing cause of the disease." ORS 656.802 (2)(a).

Petitioner sought Workers’ Compensation for arthritis and disk disease, which he asserted were caused by working as a truck driver for 35 years. The Workers’ Compensation Board found that Petitioner did not meet his burden to establish that his work conditions were the “major contributing cause” of his diseases. On appeal, Petitioner argued first that the burden of evidence shifted when he made a prima facie showing in the case. Second, Petitioner argued that the Board erred by considering his age and genetics as factors. Statutory authority provides that the worker seeking compensation bears the burden to show “that employment conditions were the major contributing cause of the disease.” ORS 656.802 (2)(a). The Court found that Petitioner’s shift-of-burden theory was not consistent with the statutory language; rather, Petitioner had the sole burden in this matter. See SAIF v. Thompson, 360 Or 155 (2016). The Board’s consideration of Petitioner’s age and genetics was reasonable because the Board did not make specific findings about Petitioner, only the likely effects that these factors could have on Petitioner’s diseases as supported by the opinions of two medical physicians on the record. Therefore, the Court held that the Board’s finding that Petitioner was not eligible for Workers’ Compensation was not in error. Affirmed.

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