Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 07/31/2014
Format: 07/31/2014
Parris Roofing and Sheet Metal Co., Inc. et al. v. Timothy Spurling
E2010-01530-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri S. Bryant

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 and his employer filed separate workers’compensation complaints on the same day at different times,in differentcourts,and in different counties. The employer filed its cause of action in McMinn County Chancery Court on April 29, 2010, at 3:53 p.m. The employee’s action was filed in Polk County Circuit Court on the same day, but the time of filing was not noted by the court clerk. The employee moved to dismiss the employer’s action on the basis of prior suit pending. The employee’s motion was supported by an  affidavitfrom his attorney’s assistant stating that the employee’s suit was filed before 3:03 p.m. on April 29, 2010 and therefore prior to the time the employer filed suit as designated by the court clerk in McMinn County. The trial court granted theemployee’s motion and dismissed the employer’s action. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

McMinn County Workers Compensation Panel 07/13/11
Barbara Ann Harville v. Emerson Electric Company
W2010-01011-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

The employee sustained a compensable injury to her arm in 2001. In 2003, she entered into a settlement with her employer that preserved her right to receive reasonable and necessary medical treatment for the injury. In April 2008, the employee’s authorized treating physician recommended a diagnostic test. The employer submitted the recommendation to its utilization review provider, which declined to approve the recommended test. The employee and her physician were notified of the denial in May 2008. In June 2009, the employee filed a petition for contempt seeking to have the trial court order the recommended test. The trial court treated the petition as a motion for medical treatment pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-204(b)(2) (2008). The trial court found the recommended test to be reasonably necessary for the treatment of the injury, ordered the employer to authorize it, and awarded the employee attorney’s fees. The employer appealed. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Henry County Workers Compensation Panel 07/06/11
Jerry Lindsey v. Tim Reeves d/b/a Tim’s Tree Service
W2010-01736-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor James F. Butler

The employee suffered a compensable spinal cord injury. He settled his workers’ compensation claim with his employer in 2007. The settlement provided for future medical treatment in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-204(a) (2008). In 2009, the employee sought authorization and payment for a hydrotherapy tub. His employer declined to authorize installation of the tub. The employee filed a motion for authorization of medical care in February 2010 and supported the motion by attaching a note from his authorized treating physician that he would “benefit” from use of the tub. The trial court granted the motion. On appeal, we reverse.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 06/15/11
Victor Powell et al. v. Brett Marter, Individually and d/b/a Quality Floor Covering
M2010-01746-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge E. Riley Anderson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

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 filed a workers’ compensation action contending his injury while cutting trees at his employer’s home was in the usual course of his employment at his employer’s floor covering business. The trial court held that employee’s work was casual employment not in the usual course of his employer’s business as defined by TCA § 50-6-106(2) and not covered by the workers’ compensation statute. We affirm the judgment.

Marion County Workers Compensation Panel 06/07/11
Mason Fischer v. Sverdrup Technology, Inc.
M2010-01095-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge E. Riley Anderson
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz

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 filed a Worker’s Compensation action on August 22, 2003 alleging a compensable injury in the course of his employment with his employer in December 1998. The employer filed a motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 41.02. The trial court entered an order in September 2008, stating that the employer was withdrawing the motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute based upon the employee’s commitment to take a medical deposition within sixty days. A second motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute was filed and heard on March 15, 2010 because the medical deposition had not been taken. The trial court granted the motion with prejudice. The employee has appealed. We affirm the judgment.

Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 06/07/11
Daniel Clay Lewis v. Dana Holding Corporation
W2010-018636-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Janice M. Holder
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor George R. Ellis

An employee sustained an injury to his shoulder at work. After a surgical repair, he briefly returned to work but was laid off prior to reaching maximum medical improvement. He filed a complaint in chancery court seeking workers’ compensation benefits from his employer. His treating physician assigned no impairment rating and placed no restrictions on his activities. An evaluating physician assigned 6% impairment to the body as a whole and recommended that Mr. Lewis avoid certain activities. The trial court awarded 36% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The employer has appealed, contending that the award is excessive. We modify the judgment to award 24% permanent partial disability to the employee. We also conclude that local Rule 17A of the Chancery Court of the 28th Judicial District of Tennessee conflicts with Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 58.

Gibson County Workers Compensation Panel 06/06/11
John Ernest Hayes v. American Zurich Insurance Company et al.
E2010-00099-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Howell N. Peoples

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 trial court found that the employee had sustained a compensable injury. In addition, it found that the employee had a meaningful return to work, and his award of permanent partial disability (“PPD”) benefits was limited to one and one-half times his anatomical impairment pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 50-6-241(d)(1). On appeal, the employee contends the trial court erred by finding that he had a meaningful return to work. The employer contends the trial court erred by admitting a discovery deposition of an expert into evidence over its objection based upon Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 32.01(3), and finding that the injury at issue was not concurrent with injuries which were the subject of a separate lawsuit. We affirm the judgment.

Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 05/25/11
Brenda Cole v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company et al.
W2009-02222-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor W. Michael Maloan

An employee was struck in the back of the leg by a wooden pallet while at work. She alleged that she sustained permanent injuries to her neck, back, and foot as a result of that incident and filed a complaint against her employer in chancery court for workers’ compensation benefits. Her employer denied that she had sustained any permanent impairment or disability. The chancery court held that the employee sustained a compensable injury and awarded 20% permanent partial disability benefits. The employer has appealed. We affirm the judgment.

Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 04/29/11
Cheryle Darlene Goodwin v. United Parcel Service, Inc., et al
M2010-01134-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ronald Thurman

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 sustained a compensable injury. She returned to work for her employer in the same job, at the same hourly wage. However, her earnings were reduced because she declined offers of additional work, which she had usually accepted before her injury. She declined these offers because she could no longer safely perform them. The trial court held that she did not have a meaningful return to work, and awarded benefits in excess of one and one-half times the impairment. Her employer has appealed, asserting that the trial court erred by finding that she did not have a meaningful return to work. We affirm the judgment.

White County Workers Compensation Panel 04/14/11
Betty Graham v. Sequatchie Valley Emergency Medical Services, Inc., et al
M2009-02444-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The employee filed a pro se post-judgment petition alleging that her employer had improperly denied court-ordered medical benefits to her, and she sought damages. Her employer moved to dismiss based upon expiration of the statute of limitations and other grounds. The employee contended that she was incompetent for an extended period of time after the alleged denial of medical care and that the limitation period was therefore tolled. The trial court held that her petition was barred by the statute of limitations and dismissed it. The employee has appealed from this decision. We affirm the judgment.

Marion County Workers Compensation Panel 04/14/11
Jeffrey White v. Nissan North America, Inc., et al
M2009-02189-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

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. Jeffrey White (“Employee”) sustained work-related injuries while employed by Nissan North America, Inc. (“Employer”). He returned to work after each injury and settled both claims. In 2005, he was terminated, allegedly for failure to comply with Employer’s policies concerning medical leave. He filed for reconsideration of his previous settlements, as permitted by Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6- 241(a)(2). Employer contended that he had been terminated for misconduct and was not eligible for reconsideration. Following a full trial, the trial court found that Employee was eligible for reconsideration, but that Employee failed to prove that his industrial disability was greater than the amount of the settlements. Employee filed a motion to alter or amend pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 59.04, requesting that the trial court permit the taking and presentation of additional evidence. The trial court granted the motion. After a second trial, the trial court awarded additional permanent partial disability (“PPD”) benefits. Employer has appealed. We conclude that the trial court erred in granting the motion to alter or amend and reverse the judgment.

Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 04/14/11
Richard Blankenship v. Ace Trucking, Inc., et al
M2010-00597-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Anthony Sanders

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 2002, the employee was involved in a motor vehicle accident in the course and scope of his employment. The employee filed suit for benefits. The employer disputed the claim, asserting that the employee had failed to give proper notice and had not sustained any permanent injury as a result of the accident. The trial court awarded benefits, and the employer has appealed. After careful review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Humphreys County Workers Compensation Panel 04/14/11
Stanley Jenkins v. Yellow Transportation, Inc.,
M2009-02471-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Robert E. Corlew, III

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 action, Stanley Jenkins (“Employee”) sustained a compensable injury to his left leg in the course and scope of his employment with Yellow Transportation, Inc. (“Yellow Transportation”). Employee settled his workers’ compensation claim with Yellow Transportation and returned to work. A few months later, Yellow Transportation merged with another corporation to create YRC Inc. (“YRC”), a completely new corporation. After the merger, Employee was laid off due to an economic downturn and thereafter sought reconsideration of his earlier settlement. The trial court ruled that Employee was no longer employed by his pre-injury employer after the merger and was entitled to reconsideration under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241. The trial court awarded him additional permanent partial disability benefits. Yellow Transportation has appealed, arguing that Employee is not entitled to reconsideration. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 04/13/11