Dennis Pennefather is astounded the Accident Compensation Corporation has refused to pay for surgery on a knee he says was in good working order until he had an accident.

"I got the stock standard rejection from ACC, on the grounds that they believed that my [previously symptom-free] knee joint had suffered the injury as a result of a pre-existing degenerative condition.

"It's a ridiculous claim and it's a one-size-fits-all for getting rid of claims," the 65-year-old caregiver and former policeman, of Te Awamutu, said yesterday.

He landed badly and twisted his knee 18 months ago when he was going down patio steps and was dragged by a small dog on a lead which was chasing a cat.


The result was a large tear in the medial meniscus, the friction-reducing cartilage pad located at the inner side of the knee joint.

Mr Pennefather describes himself as extremely fit for his age - he has no signs of arthritis, works out regularly at a gym and goes for brisk walks.

But he has had to give up jogging because of the injury to his knee, which causes clicking and sharp pain in certain positions.

He said ACC had accepted that the accident occurred as he described it, and that the knee required surgery. The only dispute was over ACC's refusal to pay for the operation.

The knee has been scanned by MRI and examined by a surgeon who recommended surgery.

"I think [his report] mentions there's some degeneration but he doesn't link it to the injury."

Accident compensation legislation permits the corporation to withhold cover on grounds including ageing and non-work gradual processes, but only if these are the injury's whole or substantial cause.

The courts have interpreted substantial to mean at least 80 per cent.


Mr Pennefather took his case to an ACC review but lost. He has appealed and is waiting for a hearing date to be set in the Hamilton District Court, where he will represent himself.

An ACC spokeswoman said it would be legally inappropriate to comment on Mr Pennefather's case before the appeal hearing.


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