Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal for failure to properly assess the worker’s medical records and recommended the Commission establish a panel to address the medical issues




The Alberta Court of Appeal Considers the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board The work was assaulted while employed in Vancouver in 2000. In 2016, the worker slipped and fell while working in Alberta. The worker developed a mild traumatic brain injury (“mTBI”). In the first set of proceedings, the Worker’s Compensation Board eventually accepted responsibility for the worker’s mTBI. In 2018, a case manager for the board determined that the worker’s current symptoms and difficulties were no longer related to his 2016 accident and that he was no longer entitled to benefits from the board. That determination was based in part upon additional medical reports received between 2017 and 2018. The dispute resolution and decision review body upheld the decision of the case manager. On appeal, the Appeals Commission found the medical evidence did not support a causal relationship after 2018. In reaching these decisions, the commission did not request that a medical panel be established to comprehensively address the medical issues relative to the claim.On further appeal, the chambers judge found that although the commission reviewed all the evidence, the explanations for its final decision lacked rationality internal to the reasoning process and lacked coherence with the purpose of the Worker’s Compensation Act and board policies. The commission did not resolve apparent conflicts in the medical information before it, leading to an unreasonable outcome. Appeal Dismissed The chambers judge’s decision was appealed to the Court of Appeal, where the panel agreed with the chambers judge that the commission’s decision failed to fall within the range of possible, acceptable outcomes which were defensible with respect to the facts and law. The commission’s reasons were untenable considering the relevant facts and legal constraints that bore on it. The result was not logical or reasonable. There was insufficient evidence of the worker’s recovery between 2017 and 2019. The commission did not resolve contradictions in the medical reports, and it appeared that the worker’s general bad behavior seriously and negatively colored the commission’s opinion as to the ongoing causation of his injuries. The medical assessments and commission failed to consider whether the worker’s behavior was a symptom of the mTBI.The Court of Appeal referred the matter back to the commission for reconsideration of whether the worker was entitled to temporary total disability benefits after 2018. Wakeling J.A. recommended that the commission should continue to gather additional relevant evidence to establish the relationship of the medical information to the accident of 2016 and should request that a medical panel be established to address the medical issue of continuing causation and the difference of medical opinions in evaluation of the claim compensation.

April 14, 2022
Zarooben v The Worker’s Compensation Board, 2022 ABCA 50