This appeal arises pursuant to the Texas Workers' Compensation Act, TEX. LAB. CODE ANN. § 401.001 et seq. (1989 Act). A contested case hearing (CCH) was held on January 5, 2001, the hearing officer held that the respondent (claimant) sustained a compensable back injury on ________ and had disability from that date through the date of the CCH. The appellant (carrier) appeals and argues that the claimant's injury was the result of powerlifting. The claimant responds that the decision is supported by sufficient evidence.
The hearing officer did not err by finding that the claimant sustained a compensable back injury and had disability therefrom. There was conflicting evidence offered, including witness statements and emergency room (ER) records, with a history of a back injury from powerlifting. The claimant explained that this was not true and that it must be a mistaken entry because of a conversation he had with ER personnel about having done powerlifting in the past, over two years before the date of injury.
A claimant's testimony alone is sufficient to establish that an injury has caused disability. Gee v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company, 765 S.W.2d 394 (Tex. 1989). Generally, lay testimony establishing a sequence of events which provides a strong, logically traceable connection between the event and the condition is sufficient proof of causation. Morgan v. Compugraphic Corp., 675 S.W.2d 729, 733 (Tex. 1984).
The hearing officer is the sole judge of the relevance, materiality, weight, and credibility of the evidence presented at the hearing. Section 410.165(a). The decision should not be set aside because different inferences and conclusions may be drawn upon review, even when the record contains evidence that would lend itself to different inferences. Garza v. Commercial Insurance Company of Newark, New Jersey, 508 S.W.2d 701 (Tex. Civ. App.-Amarillo 1974, no writ). The trier of fact may believe all, part, or none of the testimony of any witness. Taylor v. Lewis, 553 S.W.2d 153, 161 (Tex. Civ. App.-Amarillo 1977, writ ref'd n.r.e.). An appeals-level body is not a fact finder, and does not normally pass upon the credibility of witnesses or substitute its own judgment for that of the trier of fact, even if the evidence would support a different result. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania v. Soto, 819 S.W.2d 619, 620 (Tex. App.- El Paso 1991, writ denied); American Motorists Insurance Co. v. Volentine, 867 S.W.2d 170 (Tex. App.-Beaumont 1993, no writ).
The decision of the hearing officer will be set aside only if the evidence supporting the hearing officer's determination is so weak or against the overwhelming weight of the evidence as to be clearly wrong or manifestly unjust. Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company v. Middleman, 661 S.W.2d 182 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1983, writ ref'd n.r.e.). We do not agree that this is the case here, and affirm the decision and order.
Susan M. Kelley
Judy L. S. Barnes
Thomas A. Knapp