An Alcoholic Death – Industrial Causation Found

City of Stockton v. WCAB, Andrew Prouty (Dec’d), Theresa Prouty (Widow), 2016 Cal. Wkr. Comp.: Decedent, while employed as a firefighter, sustained and admitted injury to his low back on 9/12/2006.  He received orthopedic treatment with Dr. Sepiol and psychiatric treatment with Dr. Solis. Decedent also treated with Dr. Solis for episodes of “binge drinking” prior to his injury. On 1/11/08 Decedent was found dead in his bed and the cause of death, confirmed by the PQME in toxicology, was determined to be an acute ethanol intoxication, or “death by acute alcoholism.” The Workers’ Compensation Judge found that Applicant had established that death resulting from alcohol use could be compensable and further that Applicant sufficiently demonstrated a causal relationship between the stress of the original physical injury and an increase in alcohol intake.  WCJ relied upon the wife’s testimony that while her husband had problems with alcohol prior to his injury, they increased dramatically as a result of the injury, as well as a report from Dr. Solis indicating Decedant’s back injury was a trigger of applicant’s relapse of alcoholism which lead to his death.