Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 10/21/2014
Format: 10/21/2014
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
Kathleen Evans v. Shaw Industries Group, Inc.,
M2009-02588-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Jerri S. Bryant
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jeffrey F. Stewart

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. Kathleen Evans (“Employee”) alleged that she sustained an injury to her knee while at work. Her employer, Shaw Industries, (“Employer”) denied the claim, contending that the injury could not have happened in the manner described by Employee. The trial court held that Employee had a compensable injury and awarded permanent partial disability (“PPD”) benefits. Employer has appealed. We affirm the judgment.

Franklin County Workers Compensation Panel 04/13/11
Kara Barnes v. Pinnacle Foods Group, LLC, et al.
W2009-01995-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor James F. Butler

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee sustained bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of her employment. She had two surgeries on her left arm to treat the condition. Prior to reaching maximum medical improvement, she voluntarily retired. The trial court found that her retirement was reasonably related to her work injuries, and therefore the statutory limit to permanent partial disability benefits contained in Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(A) did not apply to her award. The employer, Pinnacle Foods Group, appealed. We affirm the judgment of trial court.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 04/13/11
Loyd Davis v. Praetorian Insurance Company
W2010-00438-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

Employee, a truck driver, sustained an on-the-job injury during a motor vehicle accident. The treating physician assigned 7% anatomical impairment to the body as a whole due to the injury. Employee’s evaluating physician assigned 17%. The trial court adopted the latter impairment and awarded 60% permanent partial disability. The employer has appealed.1 We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hardin County Workers Compensation Panel 04/13/11