Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 10/20/2014
Format: 10/20/2014
Angela Thurman v. Cna Ins. Co., et al.
01S01-9605-CH-00089
Authoring Judge: William S. Russell, Retired Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon.
Wilson County Workers Compensation Panel 02/21/97
James W. Smith v. Wilson County Concrete Co., et al.
01S01-9604-CR-00073
Authoring Judge: William S. Russell, Retired Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon.
Smith County Workers Compensation Panel 02/21/97
Douglas W. Taylor v. Bgl Mining Co., Inc., et al.
01S01-9604-CH-00066
Authoring Judge: Robert S. Brandt, Senior Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Jeffrey F. Stewart,
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. The fundamental issue in this case is whether an injury on the way from work occurring on a road neither owned nor maintained by the employer, but which is the only available route from the work place, was an injury "arising out of and in the course of employment." Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-12(a)(4). We conclude that it is not and affirm the trial court's summary judgment for the employer. Tennessee Consolidated Coal Company (TCC) uses independent contractors to mine coal on its 35, Cumberland Plateau acres by leasing individual mines to individual operators. The plaintiff's employer, BGL Mining Company, leased mine 34, and mined TCC's coal for which TCC paid BGL a per- ton fee. TCC hauled the coal away from mine 34 and other mines on a haul road TCC built and maintained along the Marion-Sequatchie county line. The haul road was the only way to get to and from mine 34. The private road leads from a county road a short distance from the county road's intersection with Tennessee Highway 18. TCC's haul roads are strictly private roads, and TCC limits access to them. Victoria Arlene Anderson did not have permission to use TCC's haul road on the afternoon of March 11, 1992, but she drove her Dodge pick-up on it anyway and collided head-on with the plaintiff's car as he was driving from his work at mine 34. The severely injured plaintiff was air-lifted to Chattanooga's Erlanger Medical Center. -2-
Marion County Workers Compensation Panel 02/21/97
James W. Smith v. Wilson County Concrete Co., et al.
01S01-9604-CR-00073
Authoring Judge: William S. Russell, Retired Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon.
Smith County Workers Compensation Panel 02/21/97
Peggy J. Skaggs v. Preferred Risk Mutual Insurance Company
03S01-9603-CV-00029
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Ben K. Wexler,
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. The employer's insurer contends the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the employee's fatal heart attack arose out of his employment. As discussed below, the panel has concluded the judgment should be affirmed. The claimant, Peggy Skaggs, is the widow of Charles R. Skaggs, deceased. At the time of his death, Mr. Skaggs was employed by the First Baptist Church of Morristown as Maintenance Supervisor. On August 8, 1994, following several hours of manual labor at the church, he developed severe neck pain and numbness and tingling in his hands and arms. Mrs. Skaggs, also a church employee, called an ambulance. He was taken to Ft. Sanders Hospital, where he died on August 1, 1994. According to the Death Certificate, death was caused by (1) heart attack, (2) coronary artery disease and (3) sudden cardiac death. The cause of the heart attack was confirmed by a medical doctor, who testified by deposition, "I believe the activity (he) engaged (in) may indeed have precipitated the onset of his myocardial infarction." The doctor conceded on cross-examination that undiagnosed pre-existing coronary artery disease may have been a contributing cause. The trial judge found the employee's heart attack to have been caused by physical exertion at work, thus compensable. 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). A heart attack is compensable, as an accidental injury, if it can be shown by competent evidence that the attack was precipitated by physical exertion or stress at work. Downen v. Allstate Ins. Co., 811 S.W.2d 523 (Tenn. 1991). The key, it has been held, to the recovery or denial of benefits is whether the heart attack is precipitated by the physical activity and exertion of the employee's work. Wingert v. Government of Sumner County, 98 S.W.2d 921 (Tenn. 1995). Moreover, an employee's death or disability resulting from a heart attack is causally related to his employment and therefore compensable, 2
Hamblen County Workers Compensation Panel 02/21/97
Ronnie Settles v. Sharps Mill Forest Products Inc. and Old Republic Insurance Company
02S01-9607-CV-00069
Authoring Judge: Cornelia A. Clark, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. C. Creed Mcginley
This worker's compensation appeal has been referred to the special worker's 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 trial court awarded the plaintiff a permanent partial disability of ten (1%) percent to the body as a whole and found his proper compensation rate to be $366.68. Defendants have appealed, alleging that plaintiff did not prove that his facial disfigurement materially affected his employability, and that the trial court erred in setting the compensation rate at $366.68.
Hardin County Workers Compensation Panel 02/21/97
Alan Lee Pressley v. United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co.
03S01-9606-CH-00058
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Frank V. Williams, III,
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's insurer contends the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the employee has suffered an injury arising out of the employment. As discussed below, the panel has concluded the judgment should be affirmed. The employee or claimant, Pressley, was thirty-eight years old at the time of the trial. He has an eighth grade education, but had to repeat the second, fifth and seventh grades. He has worked as a bag boy and service station attendant. He began working as a mechanic for The Auto Place in 1988. On the afternoon of October 4, 1994, he was attempting to install a gasoline tank on a vehicle when his back made a popping noise and he felt low back pain. Later the same day, he reported to the emergency room at Harriman City Hospital. The history recorded by the admitting clerk reflects the claimant had been suffering back pain for about a year, but the claimant's wife testified at trial that she told the clerk about the injury that had occurred at work the same day. The claimant did not return to work the next day because of back pain. Four days later, the claimant reported to the emergency room at Oak Ridge Methodist Medical Center. The clerk's notes at this hospital indicate the pain began five days earlier as the claimant was getting out of bed, although the claimant's live testimony is that he explained to the person taking his history about the injury at work. He was thereafter treated by Dr. Hardigree, who released him to return to work after a conservative treatment and a short period of disability. 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 02/21/97
Darin Potts v. Beaman Bottling Co., et al.
01S01-9605-CH-00108
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Irvin H. Kilcrease, Jr.,
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 trial judge found the plaintiff was 3% permanently partially disabled as a result of a work-related injury occurring on March 4, 1994. The trial court ordered the payment of temporary total disability benefits from May 23, 1994 through July 5, 1994. The trial court held that plaintiff was not entitled to reimbursement for unauthorized medical expenses. Appellant challenges the award of permanent partial disability benefits and temporary total disability benefits. Appellee challenges the trial court's refusal to allow reimbursement for unauthorized medical expenses. We affirm the trial court's judgment. Plaintiff, 3 at the time of trial, has a tenth-grade education. He has worked mostly in construction and as a sales clerk in retail and convenience stores. On March 4, 1994, he felt pain in his right shoulder as he was lifting cases of three-liter Pepsi bottles. He told his supervisor, who told him to go to the hospital if he needed to do so. He went to Baptist Convenient Care the next morning, and they referred him to Dr. Robert Stein, an orthopedic surgeon. Plaintiff worked sporadically for defendant on light-duty tasks until June 27, 1994, when Dr. Stein released him to full duty. He worked for a portion of one day at full duty and then voluntarily quit working for defendant. Plaintiff began working for Burlington Coat Factory in June 1994. At trial, plaintiff testified that he has constant pain and limited range of motion in his shoulders and neck. The employer put on various witnesses who testified to events which raised doubts as to the plaintiff's honesty in general, in a previous workers' compensation claim, and in this particular workers' compensation claim. The parties submitted the deposition testimony of four physicians. 2
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 02/21/97
Darin Potts v. Beaman Bottling Co., et al.
01S01-9605-CH-00108
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Irvin H. Kilcrease, Jr.,
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 trial judge found the plaintiff was 3% permanently partially disabled as a result of a work-related injury occurring on March 4, 1994. The trial court ordered the payment of temporary total disability benefits from May 23, 1994 through July 5, 1994. The trial court held that plaintiff was not entitled to reimbursement for unauthorized medical expenses. Appellant challenges the award of permanent partial disability benefits and temporary total disability benefits. Appellee challenges the trial court's refusal to allow reimbursement for unauthorized medical expenses. We affirm the trial court's judgment. Plaintiff, 3 at the time of trial, has a tenth-grade education. He has worked mostly in construction and as a sales clerk in retail and convenience stores. On March 4, 1994, he felt pain in his right shoulder as he was lifting cases of three-liter Pepsi bottles. He told his supervisor, who told him to go to the hospital if he needed to do so. He went to Baptist Convenient Care the next morning, and they referred him to Dr. Robert Stein, an orthopedic surgeon. Plaintiff worked sporadically for defendant on light-duty tasks until June 27, 1994, when Dr. Stein released him to full duty. He worked for a portion of one day at full duty and then voluntarily quit working for defendant. Plaintiff began working for Burlington Coat Factory in June 1994. At trial, plaintiff testified that he has constant pain and limited range of motion in his shoulders and neck. The employer put on various witnesses who testified to events which raised doubts as to the plaintiff's honesty in general, in a previous workers' compensation claim, and in this particular workers' compensation claim. The parties submitted the deposition testimony of four physicians. 2
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 02/21/97
Thomas R. Murrah v. Aetna Life and Casualty
02S01-9607-CV-00065
Authoring Judge: Cornelia A. Clark, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. George H. Brown, Jr.
This worker's compensation appeal has been referred to the special worker's compensation appeals panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _50-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 02/21/97
William Jerry Flippin, Jr., v. A. O. Smith Automotive Products Company
02S01-9601-CH-00089
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Joe C. Loser, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Joe C. Morris

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 50-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer questions the award of permanent partial disability benefits as being excessive and contends the award should be to the first phalange of the thumb rather than to the thumb. As discussed below, the panel has concluded the judgment should be modified.

Gibson County Workers Compensation Panel 02/16/97
Carmella Mccadams v. Henry County Board of Education
02S01-9606-CV-00055
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Julian P. Guinn,
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. The issue in this appeal is whether the evidence preponderates against the trial court's award of permanent disability benefits for a claimed back injury. This tribunal has concluded the judgment should be reversed for insufficient evidence of permanency. Because we do not reach a second issue, involving the method by which the employee's average weekly wage is determined, that issue is pretermitted. At the time of the trial, the employee or claimant, McCadams, was thirty-six years old, with a twelfth grade education and 8 hours of training in cosmetology. Her work history includes sewing shoes at Brown Shoe, sewing clothes at HIS, baby sitting at home, cleaning houses, working at a florist and working in the cafeteria at Henry County High School. She began working for the employer, Henry County Board of Education, in March of 1993, as a substitute cook. On November 18th of the same year, while standing on a ladder to reach vents she was cleaning, she lost then quickly regained her balance. When she did, she felt pain in her neck and back. She did not fall. She finished working that day and, except for the following day when she worked only three hours and twenty-five minutes, worked regularly until December 6th of the same year. She has voluntarily quit working. On December 3rd and 13th, she sought treatment from Dr. Walter Griffey for pain in her back and neck and a funny feeling in both feet. In January of 1994, she sought treatment from Dr. Carl W. Huff, who diagnosed neck pain without objective findings, back pain without objective findings and symptom magnification syndrome. Dr. Huff prescribed return to work without limitations and with no permanent impairment. She has been also seen by three neurosurgeons, none of whom found evidence of injury, other than preexisting degenerative disc disease. One of them described the claimant as a malingerer. Her husband called the doctor a quack. The claimant was finally referred to a Dr. Mark Crawford, whose specialty and qualifications are not in the record. Dr. Crawford wrote, " (B)ased on the AMA Guidelines to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 4th Edition and based on moderate degenerative disc disease of L4 and L5 with residuals, she would have an impairment of 8% of the whole person. This degenerative disc disease was an asymptomatic pre-existing condition brought into disabling reality by her work related injury." None of the other medical experts assigned any permanent impairment. 2
Henry County Workers Compensation Panel 02/10/97
Alma J. Milam v. Mci Telecommunications Corp., et al
02S01-9604-CH-00040
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Hon. D. J. Alissandratos,
This case is before the Court upon the entire record, including the order of referral to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel, and the Panel's Memorandum Opinion setting forth its findings of fact and conclusions of law, which are incorporated herein by reference.
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 02/10/97