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The Court Of Civil Appeals Confirms That An Evidentiary Hearing Must Be Conducted Before A Trial Judge Can Compel Medical Treatment

In Ex parte Sears Roebuck and Co., 27 ALW 20-6 (2170632), 5/11/2018, the employee, Jeffrey Donaldson, (“Donaldson”), filed a Complaint for workers’ compensation benefits against his employer, Sears Roebuck and Co. (“Sears”) alleging that he suffered a compensable injury to his back while repairing an air-ventilation unit in 2016. 

Donaldson received authorized treatment for his claimed injuries from Dr. Resit Cezaryirli, including a spinal surgery in November 2015, but Donaldson continued to complain of radiating pain in his lower back and lower extremities.  Dr. Cezaryirli ordered further testing and an “LSO” brace, and Sears denied responsibility for this treatment arguing that Donaldson was suffering from a preexisting or subsequent injury.  Accordingly, Donaldson filed a Motion to Compel with the trial court requesting that the trial court order Sears to provide medical treatment.   

A hearing on Donaldson’s Motion was set for February 26, 2018 during which the trial court heard arguments but did not receive any evidence.  On March 5, 2018, the trial court granted Donaldson’s Motion and Sears filed a writ of mandamus which was granted. 

In deciding this issue, the Court of Civil Appeals noted that an evidentiary hearing must be held on the issue of compensability before directing medical treatment, and that because the trial court failed to hold an evidentiary hearing on this issue, the trial court’s order granting Donaldson’s Motion to Compel must be vacated and the petition for writ of mandamus was due to be granted.