Connor J. Bodin

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Case Synopsis

City of Henderson Police Officer Jared Spangler sought workers’ compensation benefits, alleging that workplace conditions aggravated his significant loss of hearing. Multiple medical experts opined that Spangler’s hearing loss likely preexisted his employment, but that the workplace conditions increased his symptoms. However, the City’s compensation administrator denied Spangler’s claim because Spangler failed to show that his symptoms arose out of his employment. The appeals officer affirmed the decision, but the district court reversed.

On review, the Nevada Court of Appeals first determined that Spangler alleged an “occupational disease” and not an “accidental injury.” Second, they clarified two historical uses of the word “preexisting”—one meaning preexisting the claim, the other meaning preexisting the employment. Third, they discovered that Spangler’s claim was governed by NRS 617.366(1), which provides that a preexisting condition could be compensable if an occupational disease aggravates the condition. Finally, they determined that the appeals officer’s decision to deny the claim was based on (1) an erroneous interpretation of the relevant statutes, and (2) a failure to apply NRS 617.366(1). Spangler needed only to show that his preexisting condition was aggravated by an occupational disease. Thus, the court affirmed the district court’s reversal and remanded for further proceedings.