Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 10/21/2014
Format: 10/21/2014
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
Tony Wayne Wilson v. Bill Jennings et al.
E2010-02028-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge E. Riley Anderson
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Michael Sharp

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. In this case, the employee alleged that he was working as a carpenter for the defendant, Wayne Neeley, when he fell from the roof of a house and seriously injured his right ankle. Neeley denied that he was the employer and also denied that he was a subcontractor for the defendant, B & L Construction, the general contractor. The trial court held that the employee was employed by Neeley and that Neeley was a subcontractor of B & L Construction. Because Neeley did not have workers’ compensation insurance, the trial court found B & L Construction liable for workers’ compensations benefits pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-113 and awarded both temporary total disability benefits and accrued medical expenses, but nothing else. On appeal, the employee contends that the trial court erred by failing to award permanent disability benefits and future medical benefits. In response, the defendant contends that the trial court erred by awarding temporary disability benefits. We hold that the trial court properly awarded temporary total benefits, but erred by failing to award permanent disability benefits and future medical benefits to the employee. The judgment is reversed in part and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

Bradley County Workers Compensation Panel 03/06/12
Timothy D. Cunningham v. City of Savannah, Tennessee, et al.
W2010-02411-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Janice M. Holder
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

The employee, an undercover drug investigator for the City of Savannah, alleged that he sustained a heart attack as a result of a physical confrontation with a suspect on March 2, 2005, during which he experienced tightness in his chest and shortness of breath. He experienced pressure in his chest and low energy but continued to work the following two days. On March 5, while engaged in activities unrelated to his job, he experienced nausea, profuse sweating, and severe pain in his chest, jaw, and left arm. His wife took him to a hospital emergency room where he was treated for an acute myocardial infarction. At trial, one of his treating physicians testified that the heart attack began on March 2 and continued until March 5. A second treating physician and an evaluating physician testified that the March 2 incident did not cause the March 5 heart attack. The trial court found that the heart attack began on March 2, and the employer appealed. On appeal, the employer contends that the trial court erred in finding that the statutory presumption had not been overcome, erred in concluding that employee’s heart attack began on March 2, 2005, and erred by finding that employee’s heart attack was causally related to his employment. Although we agree that the trial court erred in its application of the statutory presumption, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hardin County Workers Compensation Panel 02/28/12
Vonetta Mousseau v. Davita, Inc.
W2010-02612-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge William C. Cole

The employee, a registered nurse, injured her neck and lower back when she slipped and fell in a pool of water. She had surgical fusions of the cervical and lumbar spine. She continued to have serious symptoms for which she received numerous medications. Her treating physician testified that she was incapable of performing any nursing functions, including those that required only sedentary work. The trial court found her to be permanently and totally disabled. Her employer has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding on disability and that the employee should be held to have been offered a meaningful return to work. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hardeman County Workers Compensation Panel 02/21/12