AOE / COECase BriefApplicant’s Ingestion of Marijuana-Laced Food Results in Psychiatric Injury

June 19, 20180

RODRIGUEZ vs. STATE OF CALIFORNIA
(2018) 46 CWCR 56

On April 20, 2016, applicant suffered food poisoning and was hospitalized when he ate a piece of marijuana-laced cheesecake given to him by a co-worker.  Applicant claimed injury to the psyche as a result of the incident.

He was evaluated by a psychiatric QME who reported that applicant had sustained a psychiatric injury.  He also noted that the injury resulted in a period of temporary disability.  He determined that as a result of the incident, the applicant suffered a decrease in his GAF score from 90 to 58.  With regard to causation, the QME noted that 50% of the injury was attributed to the applicant being drugged at work without his knowledge, 25% to subsequent employer retaliation and 25% to an unsafe work environment because the co-worker had not been disciplined.  The QME noted that the trier of fact would need to determine which of these factors were actual events of employment and which might be considered lawful non-discriminatory, good-faith personnel actions.

Following Trial, the Workers’ Compensation Judge found that the applicant sustained injury to his psyche as the result of the specific incident occurring on April 20, 2016.

Defendant filed a Petition for Reconsideration which was denied.

The Commissioners agreed with the Workers’ Compensation Judge’s analysis.  They noted that Labor Code §3208.1(a) defines “specific injury” as an incident…which causes disability or need for medical treatment.”  Here, the QME cited only one factor that caused applicant’s temporary disability.  That was the ingestion of the laced cheesecake.  The Panel also noted that the QME’s 50/25/25 apportionment failed to distinguish between causation of injury and causation of disability.Written by Edward L. Hummer, Associate Attorney in our Santa Rosa office, June 2018.

Written by Edward L. Hummer, Associate Attorney in Mullen & Filippi’s Santa Rosa office, June 2018.

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