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                                 BRB No. 00-0535

LEONARDO CONENNA                        )
                                        )
          Claimant-Petitioner           )
)                                        
                                        )
AMERICAN STEVEDORING,                   )    DATE ISSUED:   02/14/2001
                                             
LIMITED                                 )
                                        )
     and                                )
                                        )
SIGNAL MUTUAL INDEMNITY                 )
ASSOCIATION                             )
                                        )
          Employer/Carrier-             )
          Respondents                   )    DECISION and ORDER

     Appeal of the Decision and Order Denying Benefits of Robert D. Kaplan,
     Administrative Law Judge, United States Department of Labor.

     Philip J. Rooney (Israel, Adler, Ronca & Gucciardo), New York, New York,
     for claimant.

     Christopher J. Field (Weber, Goldstein, Greenberg & Gallagher, L.L.P.),
     Jersey City, New Jersey, for employer/carrier.

     Before: SMITH and McATEER, Administrative Appeals Judges, and NELSON,
     Acting Administrative Appeals Judge. 

     PER CURIAM:

     Claimant appeals the Decision and Order Denying Benefits (98-LHC-0249) of
Administrative Law Judge Robert D. Kaplan rendered on a claim filed pursuant to the
provisions of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, as amended, 33
U.S.C. §901 et seq.  (the Act).  We must affirm the findings of fact
and conclusions of law of the administrative law judge which are rational,
supported by substantial evidence, and in accordance with law. O'Keeffe v.
Smith, Hinchman & Grylls Associates, Inc., 380 U.S. 359  (1965); 33 U.S.C.
§921(b)(3).
  
     Claimant, a cargo handler, was injured on February 28, 1997, in a work-related
accident.  The parties stipulated that claimant injured his back, right shoulder
and head in this accident, and that, as a result, claimant was temporarily totally
disabled from March 1, 1997 through August 20, 1998.  The parties disputed the
nature and extent of claimant's physical and psychological disability after August
21, 1998, as well as employer's liability for payment of various medical bills.  
The administrative law judge denied additional disability benefits, and found that
employer is liable only for physical therapy administered by Drs. Patel and Parisi
from March 31, 1997 through May 31, 1997, and for evaluations performed from March
3, 1997 through August 31, 1997.  

     On appeal, claimant contends that the administrative law judge erred in
denying additional disability benefits for his work-related physical and
psychological conditions, and in failing to hold employer liable for the totality
of medical treatment rendered by Drs. Patel and Parisi.  Employer responds, urging
affirmance of the administrative law judge's decision.

     In order to establish a prima facie case of  total disability, claimant
must prove that he is unable to perform his usual pre-injury employment due to his
work-related injury. Trask v. Lockheed Shipbuilding & Construction Co., 17
BRBS 56 (1985).  In the instant case, the administrative law judge found that
claimant had neither a disabling physical nor psychiatric condition after August
21, 1998.  The administrative law judge credited the opinions of Drs.  Koval and
Head that claimant has no disabling  physical problem and could return to his usual
employment over the opinion of Dr. Patel that claimant is permanently totally
disabled from his work-related  physical injuries.  See Emp. Exs. 10, 11,
23 at 19, 24 at 34-35; Cl. Exs. 9, 13.  With regard to claimant's alleged
psychological conditions, the administrative law judge credited Dr. Head's opinion
that claimant is feigning both physical and psychological symptoms, and that any
depression he has is mild and non-disabling, over the opinion of Dr. Mannucci that
claimant is permanently totally disabled by a work-related major affective
disorder. See Emp. Exs. 11, 24 at 34-35; Cl. Exs. 8, 12 at 23.

     In adjudicating a claim, it is well established that an administrative law
judge is entitled to weigh the evidence, and is not bound to accept the opinion or
theory of any particular medical examiner; rather the administrative law judge may
draw his own inferences and conclusions from the evidence.   See Calbeck v.
Strachan Shipping Co., 306 F.2d 693 (5th Cir. 1962), cert. denied, 373
U.S. 954 (1963); Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Donovan, 300 F.2d 741 (5th Cir.
1962); John W.  McGrath Corp. v. Hughes, 289 F.2d 403 (2d Cir. 1961).  The
administrative law judge rationally credited the opinions of Dr. Koval, an
independent Board-certified orthopedist  retained by the Department of Labor, and 
Dr. Head, Board-certified in neurology and psychology, that claimant has no
disabling physiological disabilities that prevent his return to his usual
employment.  The administrative law judge pointed out that Dr. Koval supported his
opinion with  specific examination findings, and that this is in contrast to the
lack of detail for Dr. Patel's rationale that claimant is permanently and totally
physically disabled.  Moreover, the administrative law judge found that Dr. Koval's
orthopedic opinion that claimant can return to his usual employment is entitled to
greater weight because of  Dr. Head's opinion that there  is no neurological
evidence that claimant has a current physical disability.[1]   Decision and Order at 9.  Additionally, the administrative law judge
emphasized that Dr. Patel, a general surgeon, admitted that she did not possess the
same expertise in fields  such as orthopedics and neurology, the fields of  Drs.
Koval and Head.   Id.   Finally, the administrative law judge stated that
Dr. Swearingen's impression that claimant was magnifying symptoms as early as April
30, 1998, lends weight to the similar opinions expressed subsequently by Drs. Koval
and Head.  As the Board may not re-weigh the evidence, and as substantial evidence
supports the administrative law judge's finding, we affirm his determination that
claimant does not have any physical disability precluding his  return to his former
position.   See generally Gacki v. Sea-Land Service, Inc., 33 BRBS 127
(1998).

     Similarly, the administrative law judge rationally credited Dr. Head's opinion
that claimant does not have, and never had, any psychiatric condition that
restricts him from returning to his longshore job, over the contrary opinion of Dr.
Mannucci that claimant is permanently and totally disabled from  major depression
caused by claimant's work-related physical injuries.  In so concluding, the
administrative law judge stated that as he had found that claimant has no physical
disability, the entire foundation of Dr. Mannucci's opinion is undermined.  The
administrative law judge also relied on Dr. Head's unequivocal statement that
claimant was feigning both neurologic and psychiatric symptoms.  As the
administrative law judge findings are supported by substantial evidence, we affirm
the administrative law judge's denial of continuing disability benefits. See
generally Marinelli v. American Stevedoring, Ltd., 34 BRBS 112 (2000).

     Claimant also contends that the administrative law judge erred in finding that
employer is not liable for physical therapy administered by Drs. Patel and Parisi
after March 31, 1997, and for their examinations of claimant after August 31, 1997. 
The administrative law judge first noted that the office notes of the physicians
are very sketchy, and fail to state what physical therapy was provided and what
results were obtained from the therapy.  Cl. Ex. 13 at 70-71.  He further found
that Dr. Patel's testimony as to the therapy performed is "so vague" that it
demonstrates her inability to describe exactly what therapy was provided to
claimant.   

     In addition, the administrative law judge credited the opinion of Dr.
Manzione, who is Board-certified in orthopedic and reconstructive surgery, that the
only necessary physical therapy was that administered in the first six weeks after
the work accident.  Emp. Ex. 18 at 3.  Dr. Manzione stated that therapy after six
weeks should include rehabilitative exercises, and that the contemporaneous notes
of Drs. Patel and Parisi lack any information concerning  the types of exercises
carried out or claimant's clinical progress.  Without this "basic documentation,"
Dr. Manzione stated that there is no indication that more than 12 weeks of physical
therapy was warranted.[2]   Dr. Manzione further
opined that given the nature of claimant's injury as described by Dr. Patel, only
the first six months of office visits were necessary for the treatment of
claimant's injury. Id. at 3-4.

     We affirm the administrative law judge's limiting of employer's liability for
the services rendered by Drs. Patel and Parisi to that which Dr. Manzione stated
was necessary.  Employer is liable for reasonable medical expenses necessary for
the treatment of claimant's work-related injury.   33 U.S.C. §907(a).  It is
claimant's burden to establish the necessity of treatment rendered for his work-related injury. See generally Schoen v. U. S. Chamber of Commerce,
30 BRBS 112 (1996); Wheeler v. Interocean Stevedoring, Inc., 21 BRBS 33
(1988); Ballesteros v. Willamette Western Corp., 20 BRBS 184 (1988). 
Moreover, the administrative law judge is entitled to determine the weight to be
accorded the varying medical opinions of record. See generally Calbeck, 306 F.2d
693; Donovan, 300 F.2d 741; John W. McGrath Corp., 289 F.2d 403.   Inasmuch as the
administrative law judge rationally found that Dr. Patel's office records and testimony are deficient as to the
treatment rendered claimant, and as Dr. Manzione's opinion supports the administrative law judge's finding that
the treatment at issue was not necessary for claimant's work-related injury, we reject claimant's contentions of error.  The
administrative law judge's limited award of medical benefits is affirmed as it is rational, supported by substantial
evidence and in accordance with law. Id.

     Accordingly, the administrative law judge's Decision and Order Denying
Benefits is affirmed.                   

     SO ORDERED.


                                                                   
                         ROY P. SMITH
                         Administrative Appeals Judge



                                                                   
                         J. DAVITT McATEER
                         Administrative Appeals Judge



                                                                   
                         MALCOLM D. NELSON, Acting
                         Administrative Appeals Judge

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Footnotes.


1)Contrary to claimant's contention that Dr. Head's opinion compels a finding that claimant was disabled until April 16, 1999, the date of his examination of claimant, Dr. Head stated in his report that he would have expected claimant's physical complaints to have resolved within four to six weeks of the accident. Emp. Ex. 11. Back to Text
2)In the alternative, Dr. Manzione opined that even if appropriate physical exercises were performed and documented, a home exercise program would have been indicated. Emp. Ex. 18 at 3-4. Back to Text

NOTE: This is an UNPUBLISHED LHCA Document.

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