Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 12/18/2014
Format: 12/18/2014
Delta Faucet Company v. Jeffrey Noles - Concurring in part and dissenting in part
W2011-00383-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

I concur fully in the majority’s conclusions on all issues except for the notice of the aggravation or advancement of the carpel tunnel syndrome claim, and it is on that issue that I must respectfully dissent. On the issue of notice the trial court found that “Notice was available to Delta not only through its pre-employment physical, but through its own doctor's records, particularly Dr. Pearce who performed CT surgery on Noles. No prejudice was shown to Delta by any delay in notice.” I fully agree with the majority’s conclusions that Delta did not receive proper notice from the preemployment physical and Dr. Pearce’s medical records. The majority correctly states that Mr. Noles testified that he informed Delta’s plant nurse that he had numbness in his left hand and right thumb at the time he reported his elbow injury and that Delta did not produce the plant nurse to testify at trial. The majority then states that Mr. Noles’ testimony on that point was unrefuted at trial. Since the trial court had resolved some conflicts in evidence in favor of Mr. Noles, the majority infers that the trial court accredited Mr. Noles’ testimony on the notice issue as well. Based upon this inference the majority concludes that Delta received notice of the advancement of the carpel tunnel injury by way of Mr. Noles’ conversation with Delta’s plant nurse.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 05/11/12
Delta Faucet Company v. Jeffrey Noles
W2011-00383-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Janice Holder
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

An employee alleged that he sustained a work-related injury to his elbow and that his work aggravated his pre-existing carpal tunnel syndrome. His employer denied the claims, asserting that the employee’s elbow problem was related to a prior injury and that his carpal tunnel syndrome was not caused or worsened by his work. The trial court awarded benefits for both injuries. The employer appealed, contending that the trial court erred in finding that the employee sustained a compensable injury to his elbow. The employer also contends that the trial court erred in finding that the employee’s carpal tunnel syndrome was compensable and that the employee gave proper notice of the carpal tunnel injury. The employer also appeals the trial court’s finding that the employee did not have a meaningful return to work, the award of temporary total disability benefits, and the amount of the award to the employee. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 05/11/12
Lojac Enterprises et al. v. Leonard J. Kanipe
M2011-01525-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. S. "Steve" Daniel, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda McClendon

Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The employee was injured on the job and was able to return to his pre-injury position. His initial workers’ compensation claim was settled after a benefit review conference. As a part of his settlement he retained a right of reconsideration pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1) (2008). Subsequently,he lost his employment. After an impasse at the benefit review conference, his employer filed this action to reconsider the employee’s benefits in the county where the injury occurred. The employee then filed a similar suit in the county of his residence. The employee filed a motion to dismiss the employer’s action, contending that Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(B)(iv) does not permit an employer to file a reconsideration action. The employer contended that the statute did permit filing of a reconsideration action by an employer or in the alternative, the statute was unconstitutional. The trial court in the employer’s case granted the motion to dismiss and found the statute constitutional. The employer has appealed. We affirm the judgment.
 

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 05/10/12
Kiewit-Act, a Joint Venture v. Chris Jones and Christopher Bryon Jones v. Kiewit-Act a Joint Venture and Zurich American Insurance Company
M2011-01202-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. S. "Steve" Daniel, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy V. Hollars

Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The employee has appealed the trial court’s denial of benefits for injuries to his right shoulder purportedly caused by a fall at work. The trial court denied the claim based on a finding that the employee’s testimony was not credible and that he failed to establish that his injury arose out of and in the course of his employment. The employee has also challenged the trial court’s award of $3,245.25 in discretionary costs to the employer. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 

DeKalb County Workers Compensation Panel 05/10/12
Melvin Hill v. Whirlpool Corporation et al.
M2011-01291-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice William C. Koch, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa A. Jackson

This workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Tenn.Sup.Ct. R. 51. The employee filed a complaint in the ChanceryCourt forCoffee Countyseeking workers’compensation benefits forhis lossofhearing. Following a bench trial, the trial court concluded that the employee’s hearing loss was caused by his exposure to noise at the workplace. Accordingly, the trial court awarded the employee $68,759.73 in permanent partial disability benefits after concluding that the employee had a vocational disability of 78% to his hearing. The court also awarded the employee his reasonable and necessary medical expensesand discretionary costs. The employer raises two issues on this appeal: (1) whether the employee gave timely notice of his alleged injury; and (2) whether the employee failed to prove that his hearing loss was work-related. We hold that the trial court did not err in finding that the employee gave timely notice and that the employee proved his hearing loss was work-related. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 

Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 05/10/12
Marine Accessories Corporation v. Edwina Woods
E2011-01116-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Michael W. Moyers

In this workers’ compensation case, the employee sustained a compensable back injury for which he was prescribed medication. Approximately five weeks after his injury, the employee died from gastrointestinal bleeding. His widow sought workers’ compensation benefits, claiming that his death was compensable because it was caused by the medication he was prescribed for his work injury. The employer denied her claim, contending that the employee’s death was not caused by the medication, but was instead the result of esophageal varices caused by alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver. The trial court held that the widow did not sustain her burden of proof, and she appeals. We affirm.

Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 05/03/12
Randall Norwood v. Maytag Corporation d/b/a Maytag Jackson Dishwashing Products
W2011-01477-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee contended that he struck his head against the casing of a conveyor belt, causing permanent and total disability due to a resulting cervical strain and mental injury. His employer denied that he sustained any permanent disability as a result of the incident. The trial court awarded 95% permanent partial disability benefits. The employer has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding. We affirm the judgment.

Henderson County Workers Compensation Panel 04/30/12
Sandra M. Buttrey v. Altria Group, Inc.
M2011-00661-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The employee had degenerative disk disease for a number of years prior to April 2009, when she reported to her employer that she was experiencing significantly increased neck pain and symptoms, and she sought treatment. The employer denied the employee’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court credited the testimony of the employee and of one of the treating physicians and awarded the employee 28.5% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The employer appeals, asserting that the employee’s injury was not caused by her employment. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Maury County Workers Compensation Panel 04/24/12
Jim Singley v. Cherokee Insurance Company
W2011-00862-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee sustained injuries to his right hip, knee, and ankle as a result of a fall while employed as a truck driver. Although he received medical treatment and briefly returned to work, the employee continued to have pain and eventually required knee surgery. After the employee recovered from the surgery, the employer was unable to return him to work. The treating physician assigned a permanent partial impairment of 2% to the right lower extremity. The employee’s evaluating physician assigned a 13% impairment rating. The trial court awarded 45.5% permanent partial disability to the right leg. The employer has appealed, asserting that the trial court erred by utilizing the evaluating physician’s impairment rating and that the award of benefits is excessive. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Henderson County Workers Compensation Panel 04/23/12
Kathy Johnson v. Yoon Investments, L.L.C. Et Al.
M2011-01462-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

The trial court found that the employee had sustained a compensable injury in October 2005 and that she was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the injury. It also found that the employee’s hospitalization in November and December 2009 was related to her work injury and ordered her employer to pay associated medical expenses. On appeal, her employer contends that the trial court erred by finding that the employee was permanently and totally disabled and that the 2009 medical expenses were related to her work injury. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 04/12/12
Mary D. Cole v. Marvin Windows of Tennessee
W2010-02610-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker

An employee sustained a compensable injury to her hand and elbow. Employee’s authorized treating physician assigned an impairment rating of 1% to both her right and left arms. The employee’s evaluating physician assigned 16% impairment to her right arm and 15% to her left arm. Due to the disparity between the physician’s ratings, the parties selected a  physician from the Medical Impairment Registry (“MIR”) who assigned 5% impairment to each of the employee’s arms. The trial court based its award of disability benefits on the MIR physician’s rating. The employee has appealed, contending that she successfully rebutted the statutory presumption of correctness given to the MIR physician’s rating. We affirm the trial court’s ruling.

Lauderdale County Workers Compensation Panel 03/20/12
Ronald Eady v. Commodore Express, Inc. et al.
M2010-01439-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor J. B. Cox

In this workers’ compensation suit, the employee, a truck driver, alleged that he sustained a compensable injury to his back. His employer denied that an injury occurred and further contended that, if an injury did occur, it did not arise from or in the course of his employment. The trial court held that the injury was the result of the employee’s attempted assault on a co-employee and, therefore, did not arise from his employment. The complaint was dismissed, and the employee has appealed, arguing that the trial court’s finding was in error. We affirm the judgment.
 

Lincoln County Workers Compensation Panel 03/08/12
Timothy Byrom v. Randstad of North America, L.P.
M2011-00357-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Vanessa A. Jackson

The employee fell at work. He was then diagnosed to have a brain hemorrhage. The evidence showed that the fall occurred in an open area, that it was unlikely that the employee either slipped or tripped, and that he struck his head on the floor but not upon any objects. Employee had no recollection of the fall. The employer denied the employee’s workers’ compensation claim, asserting that the fall did not arise from his employment. The trial court found that the employee did not sustain his burden of proof as to causation. Employee has appealed, arguing that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 03/08/12