Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 11/23/2014
Format: 11/23/2014
David B. Mase v. Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc.
03S01-9605-CV-00054
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Dale C. Workman,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Defendant, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., has appealed from the trial court's action in awarding plaintiff, David B. Mase, 35% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The employer contends the trial court was in error in ruling it liable for the compensable injury as opposed to applying the Last Injury Rule, which would have fixed liability against the employee's last employer. An issue is also raised as to whether the trial court was in error in awarding an amount of disability which was in excess of 2_ times the medical impairment rating. Plaintiff was 3 years of age at the time of the trial and had completed the 12th grade. He testified he was injured while working on October 15, 1993, when he was stacking twelve-pack cartons of drinks at a customer's business; that he experienced pain in his left hip and leg; he was referred by his employer to Dr. Don King, who treated him with medication and therapy; he was released to return to work on November 12, 1993, and returned to the same job at the same rate of pay; he told the trial court he did not feel able to work but attempted to do so anyway. Plaintiff was terminated by defendant on December 2, 1993. There is a conflict in the evidence as to the exact reason for his discharge. Plaintiff testified a supervisor requested that he sign a written statement agreeing he could be terminated if he did not meet certain standards of work; that he told the company official that he would not sign the statement because his physical condition would not permit him to comply with the statements and that he was terminated for failing to execute the statement. The record indicates that during 1992 and 1993 plaintiff had been warned a number of times by his employer that his performance on the job was not satisfactory and that he had been tardy in reporting to work often. 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 03/17/97
Phillip W. Lee v. Shoney's, Inc.
03S01-9606-CH-00067
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Chester S. Rainwater
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The appeal has resulted from a finding by the trial court that Defendant, Charles A. Hixon, was entitled to permanent disability benefits of 17.5% to the body as a whole. The Chancellor was of the opinion the award was limited to 2-1/ 2 times the medical impairment rating of 7% pursuant to T.C.A. _ 5-6-241(a)(1). On appeal the employee has raised numerous issues regarding the limit of the award. It is insisted the court was in error in not applying subsection (b) of the statute, which would fix the limit of the award at 6 times the medical impairment rating; that the court failed to apply subsection (a)(2) which would have permitted an increased award; that the court should have allowed greater benefits pursuant to T.C.A. _ 5-6- 242; that subsection (a)(2) is unconstitutional as it requires an employee to file a new cause of action when the employee may not have received an initial award of benefits prior to the expiration of the one year period of time. The employer, Lea Industries, raises an issue concerning causation of the injury. It is insisted the preponderance of the evidence does not support the trial court's finding the ruptured disc was caused by the incident at work. Employee Hixon is 49 years of age and completed the 9th grade. Most of his work experience has been in the furniture construction industry. On November 6, 1992, he was bending down to pick up some lumber when he felt pain in his back. He was taken to the hospital where he was admitted and stayed for a period of five days. About ten days after being released, he returned to work at the same rate of pay. He told the court he continued to have pain and worked under restrictions of not bending over; and not being on his feet or sitting for long periods of time. He continued like this until July 22, 1993, when he left work saying his physical condition would not permit him to continue. There is no other evidence in the record disputing his reason for leaving his employment. 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 03/17/97
David K. Burnette v. The Travelers Ins. Co.
03S01-9607-CH-00074
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Frederick D. Mcdonald
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. This appeal has resulted from a finding by the trial court that plaintiff, David K. Burnette, was entitled to 1 percent permanent disability benef its as a result of his injury on December 18, 1994. Since he had a prior award of disability, the court apportioned the award by directing his employer, Target Stores, to pay 15 percent and the State's Second Injury Fund to pay the remaining 85 percent. The State has appealed insisting the evidence is not sufficient to support a 1 percent disability award and that the apportionment was not proper under TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-28. We agree with this contention and the trial court's judgment as to the extent of permanent disability is modified as hereinafter indicated. Employee Burnette was 37 years of age and dropped out of school in the 11th grade. He later obtained a G.E.D. certificate and worked as a carpenter in the construction industry for about thirteen years. In 1988, while working in California, he sustained work-related injuries which resulted in an award of workers' compensation benefits of 3 percent to the body as a whole. These injuries were two herniated disks in his neck and two herniated disks in his low back. After recovering from surgical procedures, he moved to Tennessee and worked for some period of time with two different fast food businesses. He was employed as an assistant manager at each company. In September, 1992, he began working at Target Stores testifying he was still having pain from his injuries and that he was still taking pain medication. While working at Target, he attempted to further his education by attending classes at Pellissippi State. He did this for several years, but had transferred to the University of Tennessee by the time the case was heard in the trial court. His goal was to obtain a degree in special education and become a special education teacher. The record is not clear as to his status in this endeavor but he said he was still taking basic courses and had not been accepted in the College of Education. 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 03/14/97
Jerold Seybert v. Ikg Industries, Inc. and Cigna Insurance
01S01-9604-CH-00078
Authoring Judge: William S. Russell, Retired Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. ROBERT S. BRANDT
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 03/12/97
Danny E. Wilson v. Calvin Burgess Lumber Company
03S01-9604-CH-00041
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Vernon Neal,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employee, Wilson, contends the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that his injury did not arise out of the employment. This panel affirms the trial court. The employee or claimant worked for the employer, Burgess, as a log skidder operator. On May 29, 1994, at approximately 12:3 p.m., the claimant lost consciousness and became incontinent. When he regained consciousness, he told his employer he was ill and needed to go home. In his complaint, he claims his condition was caused by a faulty exhaust system on the skidder he was operating. It is undisputed the exhaust system on the skidder he had been operating was faulty. The defective part has since been replaced. The skidder did not have a closed compartment for the operator. Although a toxicologist diagnosed brain damage caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, tests on the skidder produced carbon monoxide readings below the OSHA limit of no more than fifty parts per million for an eight hour exposure. A sample taken at two feet from the end of the exhaust pipe showed thirty parts per million and one taken sitting in the operator's seat, with a slit in the piece of flexible pipe that had a hole in it, showed two parts per million. Moreover, another medical expert opined those levels were insufficient to cause brain damage to an operator in an open seat. Dr. Myron L. Mills, an occupational medicine specialist, further opined the claimant's injury was the result of a non-work-related seizure. The trial judge dismissed the claim for insufficient proof of causation. Appellate review is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness of the findings of fact, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6- 225(e)(2). An accidental injury arises out of one's employment when there is 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 03/04/97
Cynthia J. Bowers Logue v. Leaf, Inc. and Aetna Life and Casualty Insurance Company Brown, Jr.
02S01-9603-CH-00030
Authoring Judge: F. Lloyd Tatum, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. George H.
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 03/04/97
Gwendolyn Chesney v. Knoxville Glove Co. and Cigna Insurance Co.,
03S01-9602-CV-00014
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Wheeler Rosenbalm,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employee contends the evidence preponderates against the trial court's award of permanent partial disability benefits based on twenty-five percent to the body as a whole and in favor of a higher award. As discussed below, the panel has concluded the award should be modified to provide for benefits based on fifty percent to the body as a whole. The employee or claimant, Chesney, is fifty-six years old and has a tenth grade education, with no skills. After working for Knoxville Glove Company for nearly twenty-seven years sewing, piecing, patching and hemming gloves, she developed disabling pain in her neck and right arm. She was referred to an orthopedist, Dr. Burns, who diagnosed cervical strain and radiculopathy caused or aggravated by work and superimposed on pre-existing cervical disc disease. He also ordered nerve testing which revealed right carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel surgery was performed but failed to relieve her symptoms. Disc surgery was performed on her neck. The doctor assigned a permanent impairment rating of ten percent to the whole body from the cervical injury and an additional ten percent to the upper extremity from the carpal tunnel syndrome. The claimant is permanently restricted from any work requiring repetitive use of the hands and arms or heavy lifting. A vocational expert estimated her vocational disability at eighty to ninety percent. 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 03/04/97
Wilbur E. Cagle v. Mike Underwood Builders Inc. and Mike Underwood
03S01-9605-CV-00057
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Dale Workman,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer, Underwood, contends the evidence preponderates against the trial court's findings that (1) the employee's injury was one arising out of and in the course of employment, (2) the employer had actual notice of the injury, and (3) the employee retains a forty percent permanent partial disability to the right leg from a torn meniscus. The panel has concluded the judgment should be affirmed. The employee or claimant, Cagle, is forty-eight years old and has a ninth grade education. He has worked primarily in construction and as a machine operator in a factory. His duties with Underwood include performing repairs on new houses during the first year after they are sold, but not home maintenance. His normal working hours are from 8:3 a.m. until 4:3 p.m., but he often works later. He is paid a salary rather than wages. On September 29, 1993, Underwood left the work site at 4: p.m., instructing the claimant to "lock up" when he left. The claimant went to one of the houses to check mortar joints and, as he was about to leave, Suzanne Chandler, who had purchased one of the employer's houses in April of the same year, asked to borrow some WD-4. Although it was after normal hours, the claimant offered to spray Ms. Chandler's squeaky door. While doing so, Cagle slipped and fell, injuring his knee. He had to call his wife to come and drive him home. Two months earlier, the claimant had slipped and slightly injured his knee while performing a repair at the Chandler home, but the injury was so slight that he did not lose time or require medical attention. He did not report that occurrence. The record is clear that the employer had actual knowledge of the accident which is the basis of this workers' compensation claim. The treating physician, an orthopedic surgeon, diagnosed a complex bucket handle tear of the lateral meniscus and probable exacerbation of pre-existing arthritic disease, caused by the occurrence of September 29th. 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 03/04/97
Bobby L. Marlowe v. Vulcan Materials Co.
03S01-9605-CH-00058
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Billy Joe White,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The appeal has resulted from a finding by the trial court that plaintiff, Bobby L. Marlowe, was entitled to 1% disability benefits due to contracting an occupational disease while in the employment of his employer, defendant Vulcan Materials Company. Defendant Vulcan contends the Chancellor was in error (1) in ruling the statute of limitations had not expired; (2) in finding plaintiff had been exposed and injured while in its employment; and (3) in finding plaintiff was totally disabled. Plaintiff was 55 years of age and had completed the 9th grade. He has a long history of having worked under conditions exposing himself to smoke, dust, etc. He spent about 16 years working in a steel foundry; about 1 years working for various coal companies; and about 5 years with Vulcan at various quarry sites where his exposure was to rock dust. When he first reported to work with Vulcan in 1988, he had a chest x-ray which apparently was not indicative of any problems. He began having some breathing problems sometime in 1991 and was x-rayed. As a result of this examination, he received a form letter dated January 13, 1992 from a medical clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. This informed him that his x-ray showed "abnormalities consistent with pneumoconiosis" and advised he needed to see a physician. Vulcan sent him to see a specialist in Kingsport, telling him the x- ray indicated something was wrong. There is no direct evidence as to the findings by this doctor. Plaintiff continued to work, saying he did not know what was wrong. Sometime later in his employment, he told the court, his condition began to worsen. He described this as noticing a greater shortness of breath and said any exertion would result in his being completely out of breath. Mr. Howell, the safety director of Vulcan, discussed the situation with him and said they would try to work with him and keep him out of as much dust as possible. At some later 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 02/27/97
Hubert M. Hurd v. General Shale Products Corporation, et al.
03S01-9603-CH-00026
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. H. David Cate,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Defendants, General Shale Products Corporation and CNA Insurance Compa ny, have appealed from the action of the trial court in awarding plaintiff, Hubert M. Hurd, 3% permanent partial disability benefits to the body as a whole. The only issue on appeal is whether the evidence preponderates against the award of benefits. Plaintiff Hurd was injured in the course and scope of his employment on August 2, 199, while manually rolling up a truck cover. The equipment did not work properly, and plaintiff was pushing with his right arm when he tore a biceps tendon. Plaintiff was 63 years of age at the time of the trial. He completed the 8th grade and later received a G.E.D. certificate. He had been employed by General Shale for 41 years and at the time of the accident was operating a dump truck. During his entire employment, he had worked at different positions such as a grinding machine operator, a brick machine operator, a fireman on the kiln, a forklift operator and a front-end loader operator. He continued to work after the accident at the same job as his employer installed an electric motor on the vehicle which would roll up the truck cover and eliminate the manual operation. Although he has continued to work, he told the court he does not have the strength in his arm and shoulder as prior to this injury; he testified his grip in his arm is now weak and when he carries anything, it is hard to straighten his arm back out. Dr. John Bell, an orthopaedic surgeon, treated plaintiff for his injuries. His testimony, which was by deposition, indicated plaintiff had sustained an injury to his arm and shoulder from the tear of the tendon and a neck injury where there was an aggravation of a previous condition due to degenerative changes. He 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 02/27/97
Lumbermen's Mutual Casualty Company, Plaintiff/Appellant, v. Yolanda Guerrero,
01S01-9602-CH-00041
Authoring Judge: William S. Russell, Retired Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Robert S. Brandt,
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 02/26/97
Gloria C. Perkins v. Whirlpool Corp., et al.
01S01-9603-CH-00053
Authoring Judge: William S. Russell, Retired Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon.
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 02/26/97
Lumbermen's Mutual Casualty Company v. Yolanda Guerrero
01S01-9602-CH-00041
Authoring Judge: William S. Russell, Retired Judge
Trial Court Judge: HON. ROBERT S. BRANDT
This appeal from the judgment of the trial court in a workers' compensation case has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated Section 5-6-225 (e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 02/26/97