An employee who suffered from an eye disease had a corneal transplant that improved his vision from 20/200 to 20/50. Then, a workplace incident damaged the transplant, and his vision returned to 20/200.
The Ohio Industrial Commission awarded Millard Thomas benefits for a total loss of vision.
His employer, La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries, appealed on the grounds it shouldn’t have to pay to return Thomas’ vision to his post-transplant condition, 20/50. The company said Thomas’ vision returned to the 20/200 it was before the transplant (which was brought on by a disease, not a workplace injury), and therefore he shouldn’t get comp benefits.
The case went all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court. It noted that this was a case of “first impression,” meaning one of its kind hadn’t been heard by the state’s highest court before.
In a nutshell, the court said, without precedent, the Industrial Commission could use its discretion to determine that Thomas’ 20/50 corrected vision after the corneal transplant could be used as the measure of his pre-injury visual acuity. Therefore, since his vision went from 20/50 to 20/200, he could receive benefits for a total loss of vision.
Cite: State ex rel. La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries v. Thomas, Ohio Supreme Court, No. 2010-Ohio-3215, 7/13/10. You can download the court’s decision here (PDF).
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