Kreiner: Case Description & Holding
Kreiner’s Case: Mr. Kreiner continually complained of pain to his lower back, right hip and leg. An EMG performed after his automobile accident showed irritation of the right leg L4 nerve root, and degenerative disc disease and spondylolisthesis. Plaintiff’s treating doctor testified that the damaged nerve root might completely heal in the future.
Plaintiff first sought treatment from his family physician four days after his car accident, and was subsequently referred to a neurologist. Treatment over the next two years consisted of pain medication, cortisone injections, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories. He also underwent two courses of physical therapy and in-home exercises. At the time of his last doctor’s visit, Mr. Kreiner was advised to use a back support during daily activity, avoid lifting over 15 pounds, and to refrain from excessive bending and twisting. Plaintiff stopped taking medication after this last doctor visit, two years after his car accident.
Mr. Kreiner was a self-employed carpenter and construction worker. He performed various home remodeling projects. He missed no work after his car accident, but he did reduce his work schedule from 8 hours a day to 6 hours a day. He testified he was unable to stand on a ladder for more than 20 minutes at a time, was unable to lift more than 80 pounds, and discontinued all roofing work. Plaintiff’s income was higher during some of his post-car accident years than it was before his car accident. Mr. Kreiner said that he could no longer walk more than half a mile without resting, and he was forced to discontinue rabbit hunting but continued to hunt deer. Regarding his working, the Michigan Supreme Court specifically noted: "Kreiner does not contend, however, that these limitations prevent him from performing his job.”
Kreiner Holding: No Serious Impairment. Plaintiff’s “life after the accident was not significantly different than it was before the accident”, i.e. he did not miss one day of work, he continued to perform all of his pre-accident work, with the possible exception of roofing work after his car accident. Mr. Kreiner did not content that his physical limitations prevented him from performing his job. “Looking at [plaintiff’s] life as a whole, before and after the accident, and the nature and extent of his injuries…his impairment did not affect his overall ability to conduct the course and scope of his normal life…While [plaintiff] cannot work to full capacity, he is generally able to lead his normal life.”