Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 08/31/2014
Format: 08/31/2014
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
Mancel Seals v. Lear Corporation
E2009-01408-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge:

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. Whereupon, it appeals to the Court that the Memorandum Opinion of the Panel should be accepted and approved; and It is, therefore, ordered that the Panel's findings of fact and conclusions of law are adopted and affirmed, and the decision of the Panel is made the judgment of the Court. Costs of this appeal are adjudged against the Employer, Lear Corporation, and its sureties, for which execution may issue if necessary.

Hamblen County Workers Compensation Panel 03/03/11
Builders Mutual Insurance Company v. S & W Builders, Inc. and Timothy Morris v. S & W Builders, Inc.
W2009-01920-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

In this workers’ compensation action, the trial court held that the employee sustained a compensable injury to his neck. The trial court found that the employee had a 30% impairment as a result of the injury and awarded 75% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The employer had two policies of workers’ compensation insurance in effect on the date of the injury. The trial court held each insurer liable for one-half of the benefits paid to the employee. One of the insurers has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the finding that the employee sustained a compensable injury and that it erred in its apportionment of liability. We affirm1 the judgment.

Hardin County Workers Compensation Panel 03/03/11
Omer Lee Dixon, Jr. v. Travelers Indemnity Company
W2010-00339-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor James F. Butler

The primary issue presented in this appeal is whether an employee, who was injured when a tornado struck the tractor-trailer rig he was driving for his employer, has a compensable workers’ compensation claim. The central dispute between the parties is whether the claim arose out of the employment relationship. After careful review, we conclude that the employee was injured when he was subjected to a hazard not common to the general public but peculiar to the nature of his employment and to the conditions under which his employment was required to be performed. Accordingly, the injury arose out of his employment. The trial court’s judgment holding the employee’s claim to be compensable and its award of benefits is affirmed.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 03/03/11
Sarah Louise Bean v. Tepro, Inc.
M2010-00264-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor J. B. Cox

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. Sarah Louise Bean (“Employee”) sustained bilateral shoulder injuries in the course and scope of her employment with Tepro, Inc. (“Employer”). After undergoing surgery on both shoulders, she was released to return to work. Employer was facing  reduced work volume at this time, and Employee worked only one day over the course of the next two months. She worked sporadically during the next four months and then was laid off indefinitely due to economic conditions. During the layoff, she applied for and received Social Security disability benefits. When she was called back to work after four months of layoff, she declined to return. At trial, the trial judge heard proof regarding the extent of Employee’s permanent physical impairment from Employee’s evaluating physician, Employee’s treating physician, and a Medical Impairment Registry (“MIR”) physician. After the conclusion of the proof, the trial court determined that Employee had sustained a permanent physical impairment of 19% to the body as a whole, that the impairment rating assigned by the MIR physician was rebutted by clear and convincing evidence, that the Employee was subject to the cap imposed by Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(A), and that she was entitled to an award of 28% permanent partial disability (“PPD”) benefits. Both parties challenge the trial court’s decision. After review, we modify the award of PPD to 21%, reduce the award of discretionary costs by $800, and affirm the remainder of the trial court’s judgment.

Bedford County Workers Compensation Panel 02/28/11
Linda Lee Kenney v. Shiroki North America, Inc. et al.
M2009-02484-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry G. Ross

The employee alleged that she sustained carpal tunnel syndrome and a right shoulder injury as a result of repetitive work activities. She was examined by several doctors provided by her employer, each of whom found that she had no permanent work injury. She sought and received treatment on her own with a physician who treated her for shoulder impingement and carpal tunnel syndrome. This doctor assigned permanent impairment but also testified that those conditions were not work-related. An evaluating physician assigned permanent impairment and testified that the conditions were work-related. Employee was a part-owner of an upholstery business during a period of time prior to the onset of her symptoms. Her testimony concerning the nature of her work for that business was inconsistent. The trial court found that she had not sustained her burden of proof and entered judgment for her employer. She has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s findings. We affirm the judgment.

Warren County Workers Compensation Panel 02/28/11
David Weachter v. Hartford Underwriters Insurance Company
M2010-00108-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. L. 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. Employee was injured in a motor vehicle accident. It is undisputed that his injuries were compensable and that he is permanently and totally disabled as a result of the accident. The issues on appeal are the propriety of the trial court’s calculation of the average weekly wage, the trial court’s denial of a set-off to Employer for a settlement with the third party tortfeasor, and the award of vocational expert witness fees. We find that the trial court correctly calculated the average weekly wage, but erred by denying the set-off and awarding the expert’s fees. The judgment is modified accordingly.

Sumner County Workers Compensation Panel 02/28/11
Timothy Ruskin v. Ledic Realty Services, Ltd.
W2009-02595-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Kenny W. Armstrong

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee, Timothy Ruskin, worked as a maintenance technician for Ledic Realty Services, Ltd. (Ledic), which managed several apartment buildings. Mr. Ruskin was injured while responding to an after-hours call from a tenant of one of the apartment buildings. In response to his compensation claim, Ledic asserted as an affirmative defense that Mr. Ruskin’s injuries resulted from his intoxication. After a hearing, the trial court ruled in Ledic’s favor, and Mr. Ruskin appealed. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 02/25/11