Robert Gravlin was employed by the City of Vista as a firefighter from January 6, 1975 until January, 2005. He filed claims for several industrial injuries sustained during the course of that employment including an application alleging cumulative trauma injury to the heart/hypertension and to the skin (skin cancer) sustained during the period from the date when he started working, January 6, 1975, to April 25, 2002, the date applicant received medical information diagnosing hypertension, with an indication of permanent disability and request for treatment.
This date was based upon the November 25, 2002 report of Qualified Medical Evaluator Prakash Jay, M.D., Gravlin subsequently obtained medical evidence of permanent disability in relation to his skin cancer injury when he received the October 23, 2002 report of QME John F. Shega, M.D.
After the examinations by the QMEs, the parties selected Daniel J. Bressler, M.D., to serve as their Agreed Medical Evaluator. Dr. Bressler reported that both applicant’s skin cancer and his heart trouble were presumed by law to have arisen out of and in the course of his firefighter employment.
The dispute at trial was to resolve issues raised by applicant’s contention that one cumulative trauma case is properly applied to both the admitted injury to the skin and to the injury to the heart, and defendant’s contention that there are separate dates of injury for the injury to the heart and for the injury to the skin, and “Anti-Merger,” presumably in reference to the provisions of section 3208.2.
The WCJ accepted applicant’s contention and found one cumulative trauma injury causing injury to the heart and skin.The recommended permanent disability rating for the heart injury is 55% and the recommended permanent disability rating for the skin injury is 35%. Under the MDT, the two ratings combine for a single rating of 74% permanent disability.
Reconsideration was granted and the WCJ’s decision was rescinded in the split panel decision of Gravlin v City of Vista. New findings were entered that applicant sustained two separate cumulative injuries, one to the heart/ hypertension and the other to his skin. The different dates of injury support separate awards of permanent disability for those separate conditions.
Section 5500.5 establishes liability for cumulative trauma based upon the date of injury “as determined” under section 5412, or based upon the last date on which the employee was exposed to the hazards of the occupational disease or cumulative injury, “whichever occurs first.” Here, the dates when applicant obtained knowledge of the disabilities caused by his skin cancer and by his heart condition occurred before the last date of injurious exposure.
The facts in this case are like those in Aetna Casualty and Surety Co. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd (Coltharp) (1973) 35 Cal.App.3d 329 [38 Cal.Comp.Cases 720] (Coltharp), where the Appeals Board determined that the applicant sustained two cumulative injuries.
Commissioner Newman dissented. He would uphold the decision of the WCJ for the reasons expressed in her Report. Although applicant may have learned of the employment origin of those conditions at different times before he stopped working, the time period of injurious exposure and employment was the same for both conditions. In this circumstance, the WCJ correctly found that both conditions were sustained as part of a single cumulative trauma injury.
A Petition for Writ of Review was filed on May 10, 2017 in the 4th Appellate District, Division 1, case D072155.