S.D. Supreme Court rules in favor of worker

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Court Gavel

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — An employee of Dakota Mill and Grain should receive worker’s compensation for a back injury, according to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

In a decision publicly released Thursday, the state’s high court upheld a circuit judge’s decision in favor of Taylor Hughes.

Circuit Judge Christina Klinger had found the state Department of Labor and Regulation used a wrong standard and relied on an incomplete review by an outside expert in originally denying Hughes’ claim.

Retired Chief Justice David Gilbertson wrote the Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion in favor of Hughes.

“A claimant is not required to prove that his or her work activities are at least 50% attributable to his or her condition in order to show that those activities were a major contributing cause of the condition. A claimant also does not need to show that there was a single cause of injury,” the retired chief justice stated.

He noted later in the opinion that the two outside doctors reached opposite conclusions.

“Dr. Shumaker concluded that he could not determine to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Hughes’s work activities were a major contributing cause of his condition. In contrast, Dr. MacDougall determined that Hughes’s work activities were a major contributing factor in causing his current condition. The Department found Dr. Shumaker’s testimony more persuasive than Dr. MacDougall’s,” the chief justice wrote. “After our independent review of the medical experts’ testimony, contrary to the Department’s determination, we believe the testimony of Dr. MacDougall to be more reliable for several reasons.”

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