South Coast Framing v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd.Annotate this Case
In 2008, Brandon Clark fell ten feet while working as a carpenter for Employer. Clark’s workers’ compensation doctor prescribed various drugs to treat Clark’s injuries, and Clark’s personal doctor prescribed additional drugs. In 2009, Clark died from the “combined toxic effects of the four sedating drugs detected in his blood with associated early pneumonia.” Clark’s family sought workers’ compensation death benefits, arguing that the medications Clark was prescribed for his work-related injuries caused his death. The workers’ compensation judge awarded death benefits to the family. The Court of appeal reversed, concluding that there was insufficient evidence that the drugs Clark was prescribed for his work injuries contributed to his death. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Court of Appeal wrongly applied a higher proximate cause standard to this wrongful death case than the Legislature intended; and (2) substantial evidence supported the WCJ’s finding that two drugs, prescribed by the workers’ compensation doctor for Clark’s industrial injury, contributed to his death.