A doctor says an employee’s injury was due to turning or twisting at work. His employer says it was because the worker weighed more than 400 lbs. Did the employee get workers’ comp benefits?
Craig Schnipke worked for Safe Turf Installation Group. One day at work, Schnipke says he was turning and rotating to take a bag off a machine when his knee popped and he felt instant, severe pain.
Schnipke suffered a torn right medial meniscus which eventually required surgery.
His doctor said, based on Schnipke’s account and his own examination, the injury was caused at work.
Safe Turf says there was nothing about the work process that caused the injury. The company contends Schnipke was merely walking when he claims he felt the pain, therefore the injury was the result of his large size.
Schnipke was six-foot-eight and weighed more than 400 lbs.
The only testimony Safe Turf presented to back up its claim was from a doctor who never met or examined Schnipke. That doctor said he didn’t believe Schnipke’s work activities caused the knee injury and that his morbid obesity couldn’t be ruled out as a cause.
The jury entered a unanimous verdict in favor of Schnipke, saying he should receive workers’ comp benefits.
Safe Turf appealed the verdict, but an appeals court upheld it.
In its opinion, the appeals court wrote, “Granted, the weight that Schnipke put on his knee as he was turning was substantial, but employers must take their employees as they find them.”
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Schnipke v. Safe Turf, Court of Appeals of Ohio, No. 1-10-07, 9/7/10.