Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 11/25/2014
Format: 11/25/2014
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
Dion Jones v. Melissa Rodriguez, et al.
M2010-00366-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Mark Rogers

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. After the employee sustained an on the job injury, she sued her employer for workers’ compensation benefits. She alleged that her employer was a subcontractor for the principal contractor but she sued only the employer, not the principal contractor. Nearly two years later, the employee requested and received the trial court’s permission to amend her complaint to add the principal contractor as a defendant. The principal contractor filed a motion to dismiss based upon the expiration of the applicable statute of  limitations. The trial court granted the motion. After a trial, the trial court awarded the employee judgement for workers’ compensation benefits against the employer. The employee appealed, contending that the trial court erred by granting the principal contractor’s motion to dismiss. We affirm the judgment.

Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 04/12/11
Willard J. Waters v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
E2010-00655-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 sustained a work-related injury to his back in 1988. The settlement of his claim included the right to future medical treatment. During the subsequent years, he received treatment from various physicians for his back. In 2006, his treating physician recommended a spinal fusion. His employer’s insurer, Liberty Mutual, denied that the proposed surgery was necessary for the treatment of the1988 injury. The employee filed a motion to compel the insurer to pay for the proposed surgery, which was granted by the trial court. The insurer has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s decision. We affirm the decision.

Polk County Workers Compensation Panel 03/30/11
Steve McBroom v. Nissan North America, Inc. et al.
M2010-00940-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Robert E. Corlew, III

The employee alleged that he sustained a lower back injury as a result of his job. His employer denied the claim based upon findings by its work site medical staff. An evaluating physician opined that the employee’s job had caused an aggravation of a pre-existing degenerative disc disease. The trial court found that the employee had sustained a compensable injury and awarded benefits. The employer appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding. We affirm the judgment, but we decline the employee’s request to find the appeal to be frivolous.

Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 03/17/11
Ricky D. Garrett v. William David Brown, et al
M2009-02592-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerri S. Bryant
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jim T. Hamilton

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. Ricky D. Garrett (“Employee”) was injured when he fell from the roof of a barn during the course and scope of his employment as a handyman for William David Brown (“Employer”), a farmer who carried worker’s compensation insurance. Subsequently, Employee filed a complaint for worker’s compensation benefits against Employer and Employer’s insurance carrier. Employee also named the Second Injury Fund (“the Fund”) as a defendant and alleged that the injury he sustained in the fall in combination with his pre-existing disabilities rendered him totally disabled. The trial court agreed that Employee was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the injury sustained in the fall combined with the pre-existing disabilities and awarded Employee full benefits with 40% liability for the award assigned to Employer and 60% assigned to the Fund. The Fund appealed, asserting, 1) that Employer does not meet the definition of “employer” for purposes of the Second Injury Fund statute; 2) that the proof is insufficient to show that Employer had knowledge of Employee’s pre-existing disabilities; and 3) that the judgment awarded Employee was incorrectly apportioned between the Fund and the Employer. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 03/15/11
William David Morgan v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company et al.
W2009-02604-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor W. Michael Maloan

In this workers’ compensation appeal, the employee alleged a work-related incident aggravated a pre-existing back condition and that he required surgery as a result of the injury. His employer denied the claim, contending that the surgery was for treatment of a preexisting condition and that the work related incident did not advance the pre-existing condition. The trial court found for the employee and awarded 20% permanent partial disability benefits. The employer appealed. We affirm the judgment.

Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 03/11/11
Jimmy Rankin v. Everybody’s Oil Corporation d/b/a Quick Tire/Tire Barn, et al.
E2010-00587-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor G. Richard Johnson

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 work-related injury in September 2007, but medical treatment was not offered by the employer at that time. He continued to work for several months despite his injury. In March 2008, his employer sent him to a physician. He was diagnosed with a significant spinal injury, which required surgical treatment and resulted in severe disability. His employer had changed its workers’ compensation insurer in November 2007. Employee’s claim was settled, but the two insurers disagreed as to which was liable. The trial court found that the insurer at the time of the original injury was liable. That insurer has appealed, contending that the later insurer should be liable due to the gradual worsening of the employee’s condition after November 2007.  We affirm the judgment.

Washington County Workers Compensation Panel 03/09/11
Michael Devereux v. United Parcel Service, Inc.
M2010-00710-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

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 sought reconsideration of his earlier workers’ compensation settlement, which had been “capped” pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 50-6-241(d). His employer asserted that he had been terminated for cause, and was therefore not eligible for reconsideration. The trial court found for the employee and awarded additional benefits. We affirm the judgment.

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 03/08/11
Jacqueline Moran v. Cumberland County Medical Center, et al.
E2010-00858-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy Hollars

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 injured her back while discharging her duties in the housekeeping department of her employer in October 2003. After treatment in the emergency room, she received conservative treatment from her physicians. She was released by her physician and returned to work. In February 2005, she was terminated by her employer. She continued to receive medical treatment for her back. In 2006, her physician recommended surgery, which was performed in December 2007. The trial court found that the employee was  permanently and totally disabled as a result of her injury. The employer has appealed, contending that the employee had a meaningful return to work and that the award should be limited to two and one-half times her medical impairment ruling pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(a)(1). The employer also contends that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding that the employee was permanently and totally disabled. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Cumberland County Workers Compensation Panel 03/08/11
Robin Baker v. A & L Industrial Construction and Maintenance, Inc.
E2009-02658-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor E. G. Moody

The employee sustained a compensable injury to her left wrist. She alleged that she also sustained a neck injury as a result of the same incident. The employer denied the neck claim. The employee’s evaluating physician expressed somewhat contradictory opinions regarding the causal relationship between the work incident and her neck injury. The trial court held that the employee had a compensable neck injury in addition to her wrist injury and awarded benefits accordingly. The employer has appealed that finding. We affirm the judgment.

Sullivan County Workers Compensation Panel 03/07/11
Anne Marie Smith v. Intex Enterprises, LLC
E2009-02557-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge

The employee filed a motion to compel her employer to provide medical treatment pursuant to a court-approved settlement concerning a claim for an injury sustained in 2002. Her employer opposed the motion, contending that any medical treatment sought by the employee was due to a separate injury sustained in 2004. In the settlement of the 2004 claim, the employee had waived her right to future medical treatment. The trial court granted the employee’s motion, and her employer has appealed. We conclude that the employee’s claim for medical treatment is not ripe for judicial resolution, and vacate the trial court’s order.

Anderson County Workers Compensation Panel 03/07/11