Matter of Krause

In Matter of Krause, 803 P.2d 81 (Wyo. 1990), the claimant injured his hand in 1979 and was awarded worker's compensation benefits. Id. at 82. In 1987, the claimant experienced problems in the same hand while operating a hammer drill. Id. The problem persisted and he sought treatment with Dr. Madden, a specialist in hand surgery. Id. Dr. Madden diagnosed claimant's condition as "an unstable scaphotrapezial trapezoidal joint in his wrist," and testified "that the probabilities" were that the claimant's current injury was a direct result of his original injury. Id. The claimant's worker's compensation claim requesting benefits for his wrist injury was denied. Id. On appeal, the Court noted that the claimant's case rested solely on the validity of Dr. Madden's testimony linking the current wrist injury to the claimant's original injury. Id. at 83. In affirming the denial of benefits, we noted a number of inconsistencies between the claimant's testimony and what he reported to Dr. Madden. Id. at 83-85. With regard to Dr. Madden's testimony, the Court stated: "Where the testimony of a disinterested witness is not directly contradicted but there are circumstances which controvert the testimony or explain it away, or if such testimony is clouded with uncertainty and improbability, or otherwise appears to be unreliable or unworthy of belief, the trier of fact is not bound to accept it." Id. at 83 (quoting 30 Am. Jur. 2d Evidence 1083 (1967)). The Court concluded that "because of the inconsistencies in the testimony and deficient medical and work history with respect to the claimant, the hearing officer did not abuse his discretion in rejecting Dr. Madden's testimony and opinion." Matter of Krause, 803 P.2d at 85.