BRB Overturn’s X Files Case ALJ Paul C Johnson and Dr John Dorland Griffith
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 27, 2010
“Rather, the administrative law judge was to assess the weight to be accorded to the medical evidence of record, without substituting his judgment for that of the physicians”
The Benefit Review Board has overturned the ALJ’s denial of benefits in a noteworthy decision that mirrored many of the arguments made in an earlier analysis on the DBA X-files. The decision also reflects a deeper understanding of war-related trauma absent in the Board’s earlier decisions. Better late than never, although this is of little consolation to those who had to pave the way.
Dr. Griffith, employer’s expert, diagnosed claimant with “personality disorder, not otherwise stated,” which is an Axis II disorder, and malingering. Thus, while Dr. Griffith sctated claimant does not have PTSD or depression, his diagnosis of a personality disorder may support a finding that claimant established a harm for purposes of Section 20(a), 33 U.S.C. §920(a). See generally Wheatley v. Adler, 407 F.2d 307, 313 (D.C. Cir. 1968) (en banc) (a harm occurs when “something unexpectedly goes wrong within the human frame”).
[Goes without saying that Dr Griffith also “diagnosed” TW with malingering (Ed)]
2. The Board’s decision in S.K. [Kamal] v. ITT Industries, Inc., 43 BRBS 78 (2009), is instructive in this regard. In Kamal, the employer contended that, as no doctor had diagnosed the claimant with PTSD or other psychological condition in a manner consistent with the criteria set forth in the DSM-IV, the claimant did not suffer a psychological harm sufficient to invoke the Section 20(a) presumption. The Board rejected the employer’s contention, stating first that the Act does not require use of the DSM-IV in assessing whether a claimant has suffered a psychological harm. Id. at 79-80.