Ohio law has long held that an employee’s particular health conditions, personal frailties and peculiar susceptibilities do not prohibit the employee from having a compensable work injury when the injury occurred in the course of and arising out of the employee’s employment. Ohio courts do not deny an employee a compensable claim merely because the employee’s physical fitness at the time of the work incident rendered him more susceptible to the injury than an otherwise healthy individual.
Recently, an Ohio employer questioned the compensability of a workers’ compensation claim when an employee with pre-existing arthritis suffered a subsequent work-related injury. In Luettke v. Autoneum N. Am., Inc.,, the Sixth Appellate District found the injured worker sustained a compensable injury. In October 2006, Ruth Luettke (“Luettke”) fractured her left leg in a work-related fall. An MRI of her left knee demonstrated osteoarthritis. Thereafter, Luettke complained of occasional pain, but continued to work full duty. In August 2012, Luettke alleged that while holding a pry bar to open a dock plate, she put her weight on her left foot, turned and felt a snap in her left knee. She sought to have a workers’ compensation claim recognized for the conditions of sprain of the left knee and tear of her quad tendon. Both Luettke’s physician and the employer’s examining physician opined that Luettke suffered from pre-existing arthritis and that Luettke’s injury would not have occurred in an otherwise healthy individual. The Industrial Commission recognized the claim and the employer appealed to court.