Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 10/01/2014
Format: 10/01/2014
Martha Ann Boyd v. Lincoln Brass Works, Inc.
01S01-9604-CV-00062
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge William S. Russell
Trial Court Judge: Hon. WILLIAM B. CAIN, JUDGE
Wayne County Workers Compensation Panel 01/17/97
Karen J. Baker v. Hca Health Services of Tn.
01S01-9605-CV-00098
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Barbara Haynes
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. Plaintiff sought benefits for an occupational disease. The trial court granted defendant's summary judgment based on TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-36, finding that plaintiff failed to file her complaint within the one-year statute of limitations. We reverse the trial court's decision and remand the case to the trial court for a hearing on the merits. Plaintiff is a registered nurse who has worked for defendant for over twenty years. In the spring of 1992, while working as a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) nurse, she began experiencing symptoms of what was diagnosed in the summer of 1992 as a sensitivity to latex. She was required to wear latex gloves and work around them daily, but because she wanted to continue to work, she tried, with the help of her employer, to avoid latex exposure at work. These efforts were unsuccessful, and she continued to have allergic reactions when she was near latex. Injury reports were filed by her supervisor on several occasions, including June 3, 1992, January 26, 1994 and March 31, 1994, when plaintiff had these allergic reactions to latex at work. On April 5, 1994, plaintiff's physician told her that she could no longer work as a PACU nurse because of her allergy to latex, which was becoming more severe, and because she could not avoid exposure with that job. In May, 1994, her employer placed her in a new position as admission assistant nurse, at the same wage, where she would not be in contact with latex. However, this position was eliminated In December, 1994 and she was then placed in an administrative position at a lower wage. Plaintiff filed her complaint on November 14, 1994. The trial court held: 2
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 01/17/97
Emma J. Toy v. American General Life & Accident Ins. Co. and National Union Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh
01S01-9604-CH-00071
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Irvin H. Kilcrease,
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.
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 01/03/97
Mary Potts v. Tridon, Inc. & Royal Ins. Co.
01S01-9604-CH-00064
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Hon. William B. Cain, Judge
This case is before the Court upon a motion for review pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. _ 50-6-225(e)(5)(B), 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
Lawrence County Workers Compensation Panel 01/03/97
Connie Drennon v. Waldenbook, Inc.
01S01-9510-CV-00184
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge William S. Russell
Trial Court Judge: Hon. ROBERT E. CORLEW
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 01/03/97
William Valdez, & Miguel Pineda v. Lang Environmental
01S01-9605-CH-00085
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Robert S. Brandt,
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.
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 12/19/96
Theresa Webb v. The Quaker Oats Company
02S01-9603-CH-00029
Authoring Judge: F. Lloyd Tatum, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge:
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.
Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 12/19/96
Johnny Ownby v. National American Insurance Company
03S01-9604-CV-00037
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Rex Henry Ogle,
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 court awarded plaintiff 48% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole at a compensation rate of $266.66 per week. Defendant challenges the amount of disability awarded, the compensation rate applied and certain discretionary costs awarded. Plaintiff, 37, graduated from high school. Most of his work experience has been in heavy construction labor. He testified that he injured his lower back on July 4, 1994, while digging up an asphalt driveway and loading the asphalt chunks onto a truck for defendant's insured. He worked on light duty until October but has not worked since October.1994. Plaintiff was treated by Alan L. Whiton, M.D., an orthopedist, who testified in this case by deposition. He opined that plaintiff had a disruption or internal cracking of L4-L5 based upon the results of a discogram. He assigned plaintiff a five percent permanent impairment rating to the body as a whole according to the AMA Guides. George B. Brooks, D.O., a family practitioner, examined the plaintiff at the request of his attorney. He diagnosed degenerative disc disease with radiculopathy at L4-5 by history. He assigned a ten percent impairment rating according to the American Orthopedic Academy guidelines. He testified that he would not disagree with Dr. Whiton's five percent impairment rating but that he also considered that plaintiff had over six months of subjective complaints of pain. He further testified that some portion of his impairment rating was attributable to degenerative changes that predated plaintiff's work-related injury, but he could not apportion it. Fred A. Killefer, M.D., neurosurgeon, examined plaintiff at the request of the defendant. He found no objective signs of a permanent injury and opined that plaintiff had a normal spine with subjective complaints of pain. He further opined 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 12/19/96
Wesley Eddins, Sr. v. North American Rayon Corporation
03S01-9602-CH-00016
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. J. Richard Johnson,
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 employer, North American Rayon Corporation, has appealed from the trial court's award of permanent disability benefits to plaintiff, Wesley Eddins, Sr. The Chancellor fixed the award at 45% to the body as a whole. Two issues are presented on appeal. First, the employer contends the trial court was in error in allowing temporary total disability benefits. Second, it is argued plaintiff did not incur any permanent disability as a result of the alleged work-related injury. Plaintiff is 29 years of age and is a high school graduate. He has been going to college for about two years attempting to rehabilitate himself for other types of employment. His college work would classify him as a sophomore. On about October 11, 1991, he was injured while at his work station when the floor gave away causing him to fall some distance below. He said the fall injured his back and he had immediate pain up and down his spinal cord and pain in his neck and legs. He continued to work for about two weeks until his condition became worse; at one point, he testified, he could not move his legs; the company doctor took him off work duties on about November 8, 1991, and he had not returned to work as of the date of the trial on September 25, 1995; his chief complaint has been massive muscle spasms; he told the court his condition did not improve much until August-September 1994. The record indicates he has seen many doctors, some have testified extensively in this proceeding and others appear in the record by medical reports, letters, etc., identified as collective exhibit #1. The review of the case is de novo accompanied by a presumption of the correctness of the findings of fact unless we find the preponderance is otherwise. T.C.A. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). 2
Washington County Workers Compensation Panel 12/19/96
Timothy Crabtree v. Apac Tennessee, Inc.
03S01-9603-CH-00035
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
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. The trial judge found the plaintiff had sustained an injury to his knee and back arising out of and in the course of his employment with the defendant. The trial court awarded the plaintiff 3% permanent partial disability to the leg as a result of the knee injury and 25% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole as a result of the back injury. The defendant says the trial judge erroneously found the plaintiff had given notice of an accidental injury to his back and says, also, that the awards for the injuries were erroneous. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Injury to the Knee During March 1992, the plaintiff injured his right knee. He was treated by Dr. Paul Naylor for this injury. Dr. Naylor performed surgery on the plaintiff's knee on October 13, 1992 to repair the damage sustained by the plaintiff. Dr. Naylor testified the plaintiff had a 12% medical impairment to his knee as a result of the accident, which the defendant does not dispute. We find the evidence does not preponderate against the evidence of 3% permanent partial disability to the leg found by the trial judge, and we affirm the judgment thereon. T.C.A. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). Injury to the Back The plaintiff testified he injured his back in April 1993 when he reached back to lock the tailgate of a truck he was driving in the course of his employment. He testified he gave notice of the injury to his supervisor, James Hawkins, and the safety director, Steve Bell. Hawkins and Bell testified the plaintiff did not give them notice of an accidental injury as he testified. They testified the plaintiff related that the back pain he was having was connected to, or was a result of, the knee injury. 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 12/19/96
Richard Caldwell v. Activated Metals & Chemicals, Inc., et al.
03S01-9602-CV-00015
Authoring Judge: John K. Byers, Senior Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Ben W. Hooper, Ii,
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 court awarded plaintiff 35% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. Defendant challenges the trial court's finding that plaintiff's impairment arose out of a work-related injury and the trial court's consideration of the testimony of the plaintiff's expert witness. Plaintiff, 43, finished the eleventh grade. He has a varied work experience, having worked in restaurants, construction, as a stockboy, a janitor/security guard and as a salesperson of draperies and linens. He testified that he suffered an injury in the nature of an occupational disease from inhaling aluminum oxide dust and the dust of a nickel aluminum alloy at his workplace, resulting in his having to stop working and seeking medical care on July 28, 1993. He began working for defendant in January 1993. Plaintiff was referred to Barry Frame, M.D., a specialist in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, who testified in this case by deposition. He diagnosed pneumonia with complicating empyema (or lung abscess). Apparently, plaintiff suffered a pneumothorax, or puncturing of the lung. Dr. Frame opined that this pneumothorax was the result of infection, a pneumonia resulting from the aspiration of some anaerobic organism. No organism was cultured. When asked if plaintiff told him that his condition started as a result of exposure to a metal compound at work, Dr. Frame testified that he was aware that there was some consideration of an occupational factor, but that plaintiff should be referred to a pulmonologist to evaluate that; he had been concerned with dealing with the pneumonia and its complications. Chaim Cohen, M.D., a specialist in occupational medicine, examined the plaintiff at the request of his attorney. He examined plaintiff, reviewed material safety data sheets for compounds to which plaintiff had been exposed, reviewed 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 12/19/96
John D. Baggett v. Firemen's Fund Insurance Company
01S01-9603-CH-00055
Authoring Judge: William H. Inman, Senior Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Robert S. Brandt,
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 complaint alleges "[t]hat on or about the 22nd day of June, 1993, the Plaintiff, while operating a printing press, had his left thumb amputated when it became caught in the press." In point of fact, he suffered an "avulsive injury of the distal aspect of his thumb, just distal to the IP joint with nerve and vascular damage within the thumb proximal to the point of severance." The thumb fragment could not be re-attached and the amputation was surgically completed at the level of the interphalangeal joint, resulting in the loss of one-half of the thumb. The defendant admitted the material allegations of the complaint and essentially conceded that the plaintiff was entitled to recover benefits for the loss of a thumb. Notwithstanding that the complaint did not allege disability to the hand, the issue at trial was whether the injury so affected the hand as to justify an award for benefits thereto rather than for the loss of a scheduled member. The Chancellor limited benefits to the loss of the thumb; the employee appeals insisting that he is entitled to benefits for resultant partial permanent disability to his hand. The treating surgeon was Dr. Bruce Shack, a reconstructive specialist from the Vanderbilt Medical Center. He testified: Q. Now, Doctor, have you formed an opinion based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty whether or not this injury Mr. Baggett suffered will result in any permanent impairment? A. Yes, sir, I have. Q. Will you tell the Court what that opinion is, sir. A. Well, this is a relatively straight forward type of case where the amputation through the interphalangeal joint of the thumb allows us to utilize the Guides that are set forth in the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment and basing Mr. Baggett's impairment on the loss of the thumb through the interphalangeal joint, I had rated him as 2 percent impairment of the hand. And, of course, that using the conversion tables equals an 18 percent impairment of the upper extremity and 11 percent impairment of the whole person. Q. Now, the injury to the thumb and hand as you've indicated, is that in anyway affected by the upper extremity? 2
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 12/19/96
Fireman's Fund Insurance v. Taylor Barton Mills
03S01-9601-CH-00008
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Dennis H. Inman,
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 finding that his injury was caused by intoxication. The panel concludes the judgment should be reversed. On February 15, 1995, the employee or claimant, Mills, was working at his job as a machinist using a large lathe to bore a specifically sized hole into a fifty inch bull gear. After stopping the lathe to take a measurement, he accidentally - perhaps negligently - brushed against the lathe's starter button. The lathe started and the claimant's clothing was caught in the turning lathe. As a result, he was injured. Tests done at the University of Tennessee Medical Center shortly after the accident revealed a high level of cannaboid concentration from probable chronic use of marijuana. The claimant admits to being a chronic user of marijuana and had admittedly smoked two or three "joints" on the evening before the accident. Additionally, two witnesses testified that they thoughtthey saw him from some one hundred feet away, sharing a joint with another employee on the morning of the accident, before beginning work. The claimant and other employee denied it. The employer knew Mills was a heavy marijuana user and had fired him for thirty days on a previous occasion for "suspected" use of the substance, but re-hired him 3 days later at a higher rate of pay. An expert, without examining the claimant, opined from lab test results that marijuana intoxication was a possible contributing cause of his 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 12/18/96