Disability rating must be made by the company-designated physician within the period prescribed. Otherwise, the total and permanent disability will be deemed established.
Dario A. Carcedo, substituted by his wife Pricilla Dela Cruz-Carcedo Vs. Maine Marine Philippines, Inc. and/or Misuga Kajun Co., Ltd. and/or Ma. Corazon Geuse-Songcuya
G.R. No. 203804, April 15, 2015
Dario A. Carcedo (Carcedo) was hired by respondent Maine Marine Philippines, Inc. for its foreign principal Misuga Kajun Co., Ltd. (collectively, respondents). He was engaged as Chief Officeron board M/V Speedwell under contract for nine months.
Get an updated and re-numbered copy of the Labor Code 2017
Carcedo’s foot was wounded because of his safety shoes. Upon examination, the ship doctor gave him antibiotics and allowed him to resume work. His foot’s condition worsened when he slid down the deck and bumped his right foot. In January 2009, he felt pain in the back of his swollen leg and developed fever and headache.
He was treated at the Yoshino Hospital in Japan. The doctor diagnosed Carcedo with an open fracture of the right major toe bone with a suspicion of sepsis. Carcedo was repatriated on 20 January 2009. He was immediately referred to the company-designated physician, Dr. Nicomedez Cruz of the Manila Doctors Hospital, for medical treatment.
Carcedo also underwent disarticulation of the right big toe on 26 January 2009. He was discharged from the hospital on 12 February 2009. On 24 March 2009, Dr. Cruz recommended “an impediment disability grading of 8% Loss of first toe (big toe) and some of its metatarsal bone.”
Due to infection of the amputated stump, Carcedo was again admitted to the hospital on 20 April 2009 for intravenous antibiotics.14While confined in the hospital, Carcedo underwent sequestrectomy of the right first metatarsal bone. He also underwent curettage and serial debridements of the wound. On 27 May 2009, Carcedo’s right first metatarsal bone was removed. He was discharged on 6 June 2009.
On 21 October 2009, Carcedo filed a complaint for total and permanent disability benefits in the amount of US$148,500.00, sickness allowance and other consequential damages.
Meanwhile, Carcedo consulted orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Alan LeonardoR. Raymundo, who amputated Carcedo’s second toe on 30 November 2009.
Labor Arbiter Patricio Libo-on deniedCarcedo’s claim for full disability and awarded him only partial disability inthe amount of US$11,800.00 in accordance with the contract between the parties.
The Labor Arbiter held that the contract between the parties is the law between them. Hence, the partial and permanent disability assessment made by the company-designated physician in accordance with the CBA prevails over the inability of Carcedo to return to his usual work.
The NLRC reversed the Labor Arbiter’s decision and awarded Carcedo full disability benefits and attorney’s fees.
The NLRC gave credence to the findings of Dr. Raymundo, and held that Carcedo’s death was confirmation of his unfitness to do work as aseaman. The NLRC applied the definition of permanent disability enunciated by the Court in the case of Crystal Shipping Inc. v. Natividad, which was “the inability of a worker to perform his job for more than 120 days, regardless of whether or not he loses the use of any part of his body.”
In its Resolution, the NLRC denied respondents’ motion for reconsideration for lack of merit. Hence, herein respondents filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals upheld the 8% disability grading made by the company-designated physician in accordance with the CBA. However, the Court of Appeals also declared Carcedo to be suffering from total and permanent disability because (1) he was unable to perform his job for more than 120 days; and (2) the declarations by the company-designated physician that Carcedo was fit for sea duty were made more than 400 days from repatriation.
Hence, the petition.
Whether or not the failure of the company-designated physician to give a definitive impediment rating of disability beyond the extended temporary disability period lapsed, by operation of law, into a total and permanent disability.
Whether or not despite the definitive finding of 8% disability cause of action can still exist if the seafarer is incapacitated to perform his usual sea duties if he was still undergoing medical treatments and was confined in the hospital
The SC granted the petition in part.
The SC did not agree with the Court of Appeals and the Labor Arbiter that the 24 March 2009 disability assessment made by Dr. Cruz was definitive. The SC ruled that the said disability assessment was an interim one because Carcedo continued to require medical treatments even after 24 March 2009. He was confined in the hospital from 20 April 2009 to 6 June 2009, where he underwent serial debridements, curettage, sequestrectomy and even amputation of the right first metatarsal bone. He was certainly still under total disability, albeit temporary at that time.
His discharge from the hospital was 137 days from repatriation. Following the Court’s rulings in Vergara and Kestrel, since Carcedo required further medical treatments beyond the 120-day period, his total and temporary disability was extended. The company-designated physician then had until 240 days from repatriation to give the final assessment.
The company-designated physician failed to give a definitive impediment rating of Carcedo’s disability beyond the extended temporary disability period, after the 120-day period but less than 240 days. By operation of law, therefore, Carcedo’s total and temporary disability lapsed into a total and permanent disability.
Even assuming that Dr. Cruz’s 24 March 2009 disability rating were definitive, Carcedo would still have a cause of action for total and permanent disability compensation. Dr. Cruz’s declaration of 8% impediment rating was made 63 days from repatriation, within the 120-day period. However, beyond this period, Carcedo was still incapacitated to perform his usual sea duties as he was still undergoing medical treatments and was confined in the hospital.
Nevertheless, Carcedo’s disability is deemed total and permanent due to the lack of a final disability assessment and of a certification of fitness for sea service from Dr. Cruz.