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                                    BRB No. 01-0656

DEBORAH L. COLLINS                      )
          Claimant-Petitioner           )
     v.                                 )
RIO DOCE PASHA TERMINAL                 )    DATE ISSUED:   05/06/2002
     and                                )
STATE COMPENSATION                      )
INSURANCE FUND                          )
          Employer/Carrier-             )
          Respondents                   )    DECISION and ORDER

     Appeal of the Decision and Order Denying Benefits of Alexander Karst,
     Administrative Law Judge, United States Department of Labor.

     Preston Easley (Law Offices of Preston Easley), San Pedro, California,
     for claimant.  

     Gary M. Spero, State Compensation Insurance Fund, Santa Ana, California,
     for employer/carrier. 

     Before: DOLDER, Chief Administrative Appeals Judge, McGRANERY and
     GABAUER, Administrative Appeals Judges.


     Claimant appeals the Decision and Order Denying Benefits (2000-LHC-0993) of
Administrative Law Judge Alexander Karst 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
administrative law judge's  findings of fact and conclusions of law 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 sustained a work-related, soft tissue injury on January 2, 1998, when
a bundle of steel pipes struck her right foot.  Employer voluntarily paid claimant
temporary total disability benefits.  Thereafter, claimant sought permanent partial
disability benefits under the schedule. See 33 U.S.C. §908(c)(4), (19). 
The administrative law judge found that claimant does not have any residual
impairment from her injury, and he therefore denied claimant benefits.     

     On appeal, claimant contends the administrative law judge erred in finding
that she has no impairment from the work injury.  Employer responds, urging

     Claimant first contends that the administrative law judge erred in rejecting
the opinion of her treating physician, Dr. Kurzweil, that she suffers a 7 percent
whole-man impairment, which claimant contended translates to a 17 percent
impairment to the lower extremity.  The administrative law judge rejected Dr.
Kurzweil's opinion, as he found that the doctor did not properly apply the American
Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA
Guides).  This finding is supported by substantial evidence.   Dr. Kurzweil
specifically stated that Table 36 of the AMA Guides, on which  he relied, 
provides for a 7 percent whole-man impairment rating where there is  "an antalgic
limp with shortened stance phase and documented moderate to advanced arthritic
changes of  hip, knee or ankle."  CX 3. The administrative law judge found that Dr.
Kurzweil adopted the 7 percent rating even though he admitted that claimant does
not have arthritic changes.[1]   Inasmuch as the
administrative law judge found that Dr. Kurzweil's impairment rating lacked a
proper foundation, he rationally stated he was not required to give Dr. Kurzweil's
opinion "special weight" even though he was a treating physician. See Amos v.
Director, OWCP, 153 F.3d 1051 (9th Cir. 1998), amended, 164 F.3d 480, 32 BRBS 144(CRT) (9th Cir. 1999),
cert. denied, 528 U.S. 809 (1999).   Furthermore, the administrative law judge
rationally credited the opinions of Drs. Smith and London that claimant suffers no
rateable permanent impairment from her 1998 injury, because he found these opinions
fully documented and explained.  EX 1, 2.  In this regard, the administrative law
judge also noted that Dr. Smith could be considered a treating physician as he saw
claimant three times on referral from Dr. Kurzweil. 

     Claimant also contends that the administrative law judge erred in not awarding
her benefits based on her description of her symptoms, which include, inter
alia,  her foot giving way, swelling and pain in her foot, and balance problems
on uneven decks on ships. See Tr. at 18-19.  Any error the administrative
law judge made in not specifically addressing this testimony is harmless, as the
administrative law judge credited the opinions of Drs. Smith and London.  These
physicians both found claimant's subjective complaints  to be greater than expected
based on the lack on any objective findings.  EX 1.  Thus, as the administrative
law judge's finding that claimant has no permanent impairment is rational and
supported by substantial evidence, it is affirmed.  See Cotton v. Army & Air
Force Exchange Services, 34 BRBS 88 (2000); Pimpinella v. Universal Maritime
Service, Inc., 27 BRBS 154 (1993).

     Accordingly, we affirm the administrative law judge's Decision and
Order Denying Benefits. 


                         NANCY S. DOLDER, Chief
                         Administrative Appeals Judge

                         REGINA C. McGRANERY
                         Administrative Appeals Judge

                         PETER A. GABAUER, Jr.
                         Administrative Appeals Judge

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1)Dr. Kurzweil stated that claimant "does not have the arthritic changes in the hip, knee or ankle..." and wrote that "one must overlook the requirement to have arthritis." His purported rationale is that "it would be impossible for [her foot problem to cause arthritic] changes in her hip, knee or ankle unless they were pre-existing." CX 3. Back to Text

NOTE: This is an UNPUBLISHED LHCA Document.

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