December 09, 2010

Medical experts and conflicting medical opinions

Medical experts and conflicting medical opinions
Harper v McCall, App. Div., Third Dept., 277 AD2d 589

Pauline Harper challenged the rejection of her applications for ordinary and accidental disability retirement benefits by the New York State Employees’ Retirement System, contending that the Comptroller should have considered the expert medical opinion of her physician in making his determination.

Harper, a school bus driver, claimed that she was permanently disabled due to a neck condition. Her personal physician said that Harper was permanently incapacitated from performing the duties of a school bus driver as a result of a degenerative arthritic condition in her neck that was asymptomatic prior to a 1994 work-related accident that aggravated the condition.

The retirement system’s expert testified that, while Harper exhibited pain and discomfort when he examined her in 1997, he could find no objective evidence of neurological disease or injury that would cause her subjective symptoms, and he concluded that petitioner could perform the duties of a school bus driver.

The Appellate Division rejected Harper’s appeal, commenting that “[i]t is well settled that [the Comptroller] has the authority to resolve conflicts in medical opinion and to credit the testimony of one expert over that of another and may rely on an expert opinion based on a review of medical records and a physical examination is generally credible evidence.”
NYPPL

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