Submitted September 28, 2017
Petition for Review of an Order of the District of Columbia
Department of Employment Services Compensation Review Board
N. DeSmyter was on the brief for petitioner.
A. Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia,
Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General at the time the statement was
filed, and Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General at the
time the statement was filed, filed a statement in lieu of
O. Rollman was on the brief for intervenor.
H. Dho entered an appearance for intervenor.
Blackburne-Rigsby, Chief Judge, McLeese, Associate Judge, and
Nebeker, Senior Judge.
McLeese, Associate Judge.
Katarina Straughn challenges an order denying her claim for
workers' compensation benefits. We vacate and remand for
evidence presented to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) was
as follows. In September 2014, while working for intervenor
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Ms.
Straughn hit her right knee against a metal beam. She sought
medical treatment at a hospital that day for severe pain in
her right knee. Ms. Straughn started seeing Dr. Rida Azer in
October 2014 for treatment of her right-knee pain. Dr. Azer
initially diagnosed Ms. Straughn with a right-knee contusion.
Dr. Azer subsequently concluded that Ms. Straughn had
"an avulsion tear of the medial lateral ligament with
traumatic synovitis." An October 2014 MRI test
contradicted Dr. Azer's diagnosis, indicating that there
was no ligament tear and that Ms. Straughn instead suffered
from chondromalacia and mild arthritis.
Straughn visited Dr. Azer several more times over the next
few months with continued complaints of right-knee pain.
Starting in January 2015, Dr. Azer suggested arthroscopic
surgery as an option for Ms. Straughn. In July 2015, Dr. Azer
diagnosed Ms. Straughn with a possible tear of the
right-quadriceps tendon. Dr. Azer opined that the tear was
caused by Ms. Straughn's September 2014 injury. Dr. Azer
further opined, "The patient's condition in the
right knee itself will need arthroscopic surgery. If there is
a tear in the quadriceps, this will need a small incision for
reconstruction." Ms. Straughn underwent another MRI in
July 2015. In August 2015, Dr. Azer noted that Ms.
Straughn's July 2015 MRI was unchanged from the previous
MRI, showing chondromalacia and arthritis. Dr. Azer continued
to diagnose Ms. Straughn with a "[r]ight knee
contusion" and suggest "diagnostic and therapeutic
arthroscopy" along with a probable reconstruction of a
torn quadriceps. Dr. Azer also concluded that Ms. Straughn
was medically unable to work during a period including
December 5, 2015, to January 4, 2016.
David Johnson examined Ms. Straughn in June 2015 at
WMATA's request. He initially suspected that there might
be a quadriceps tear, but he recommended against arthroscopy
because that procedure would not identify such an injury.
After reviewing the MRIs, Dr. Johnson opined that Ms.
Straughn's symptoms were the result of arthritis that
preexisted the workplace incident; that because there was no
difference in her condition between the two MRIs, the
workplace incident did not accelerate her preexisting
arthritis; that although the workplace incident might have
temporarily exacerbated the symptoms of her preexisting