Rarely do we feast our eyes on this. I’m sure the fellow who won this didn’t read our site but he dialed it to a T. He got a bulletproof nexus from a top drawer Hepatologist. He had good post-service records and supportive medical personnel who backed him up. vA couldn’t hang anything on this fellow but we notice it had to go to DC for resolution. This begs the question of why in Sam Hill they denied it at St. Pete.
A clean jetgun win is unique. vA is loathe to just grant on this alone. Usually they want some other risk they can ascribe it to so that it dilutes the win. WGM’s decision this year was a classic example of this. They didn’t even want to go there so they took the misguided (and illegal) approach of willful misconduct via STDs.
Vets might do well to look up attorney Carol J. Ponton in the St. Pete’s phone book or google her name to find out more about how she managed to pull off this stunning win.
Citation Nr: 1214128
Decision Date: 04/18/12 Archive Date: 04/27/12
DOCKET NO. 09-22 157 ) DATE
On appeal from the
Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office in St. Petersburg, Florida
Entitlement to service connection for hepatitis C.
Appellant represented by: Carol J. Ponton, Attorney
The service treatment records do not show any complaints, findings, treatment, or diagnosis of hepatitis C or any liver abnormalities.
Post-service medical records include clinical records of Ronnie Pimental M.D., who treated the appellant for hepatitis C in 2004-2005. It is significant to note that the appellant told this physician that he was a “lab tech” while in the Coast Guard during the 1970’s. He reported having an episode of hepatitis in about 1972, but did not know when he was infected. He denied having any past drug use.
The appellant currently maintains that he worked in a medical facility during ADT service. His service personnel records only show that he was a Seaman, with no other information regarding his duties. When the appellant told Dr. Pimental that he had been a lab tech, he was seeking treatment for hepatitis C, was exploring his medical history, and had no claim for VA benefits pending with VA. As such, his report of his history to this physician is highly credible and probative. The Board therefore accepts that he did work in a medical environment during ADT, as he has reported.
Two medical opinion letters have been received from Philip N. Styne, M.D., in which he indicated that he reviewed the appellant’s medical records and had interviewed the appellant. This physician provided his credentials, which are extensive, and include experience with hepatitis C. Originally, Dr. Styne stated that he thought that the appellant was a phlebotomist during service. He later corrected this statement and indicated that the appellant worked cleaning in a medical laboratory. Dr. Styne stated that the appellant had exposure to blood products during that time. In addition, Dr. Styne indicated that the appellant had been inoculated via jet gun during service. The service treatment records document that the appellant was vaccinated on two occasions during his ADT service. The physician provided an opinion that the appellant’s hepatitis C was related to the jet air gun inoculations as well as possibly from laboratory cleaning work exposure. He cited to various medical research articles in support of his conclusion that the jet air gun inoculations likely caused the hepatitis C. It was also noted by this physician that the appellant did not otherwise have any exposure to hepatitis C.
As noted, the Board finds the appellant ‘s statements credible regarding his inservice job duties and experiences. The Board also accepts that his job duties and the inservice vaccinations occurred while he was performing ADT. The appellant provided his hepatitis risk factors which are uncontradicted in the record. The assessment as to the etiology requires a complex medical impression. The private physician provided an opinion to determine the etiology of the appellant’s hepatitis C. The records were reviewed, the appellant was questioned, and the risk factors were explored. The physician provided his own curriculum vitae which showed experience with hepatitis C diagnoses and he also cited to medical research. The Board attaches significant probative value to this opinion, as it is well reasoned, detailed, consistent with other evidence of record, and included an access to the accurate background of the appellant. See Prejean v. West, 13 Vet. App. 444, 448-9 (2000) (Factors for assessing the probative value of a medical opinion include the thoroughness and detail of the opinion).