Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 07/30/2014
Format: 07/30/2014
St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company and Lineal Group, Inc. v. Cecil Carrick
01S01-9509-CV-00146
Authoring Judge: Robert L. Childers, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Robert E. Corlew
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 Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff 85% permanent partial disability to the left lower extremity. Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant below appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in finding that the employee's testimonywas credible; that the employee failed to prove that he sustained a permanent injury which arose out of and in the course of his employment; that the employee failed to give proper notice of his injury; that the evidence does not support an award of 85% to the lower extremity; and that the medical treatment awarded by the trialcourt was unauthorized and should not have been allowed. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff worked at Samsonite for 3 years. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff's other work experience includes growing tobacco and peppers, raising cattle, and performing various odd jobs. Defendant/Counter- Plaintiff has a high school education and some training in electronics. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff's duties at Samsonite included counting and transferring chairs from one line to another. This involved shifting his weight from one leg to the other. It also involved spending long periods of time on his feet while working on a concrete floor. Because Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff suffered several strokes since the time of the injury and was unable to remember many of the specific facts surrounding his injury so as to be unavailable, the trial court relied on Defendant/Counter- Plaintiff's deposition testimony. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff was 55 years old on the date that he gave his deposition testimony. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff testified that he suffered from pain in his left knee. For four or five months prior tothe injury complained of, Defendant/Counter- Plaintiff's leg would swell from hip down to ankle. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff told his foreman about the problems with his legs
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96
Kenneth W. Leach v. Driver Power Leasing & Humboldt Express
01S01-9601-CV-00021
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Randolph A. Veazey,
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96
Kenneth W. Leach v. Driver Power Leasing & Humboldt Express
01S01-9601-CV-00021
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Randolph A. Veazey,
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96
Joseph Jarreau v. Vanliner Insurance Company
01S01-9512-CH-00228
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Bobby Capers,
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. This appeal presents the questions whether and under what circumstances, if any, an injured worker may give up his right to future medical expenses. The panel concludes the trial court's judgment, approving a settlement in which the right to future medical expenses was voluntarily surrendered for consideration, should be affirmed. The employee or claimant, Jarreau, commenced this civil action by filing a complaint for workers' compensation benefits, averring that he had suffered an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment by Ozark Motor Lines, Inc. The complaint further averred, in relevant part, that his injury had been diagnosed as a tear of the left medial meniscus, that he had reached maximum medical recovery and would retain a permanent impairment but that there was a genuine dispute as to the extent of his permanent disability. He sought to recover medical and permanent partial disability benefits. Vanliner Insurance Company served its answer admitting it was the insurer for Ozark, but denying that the claimant had suffered a compensable injury or that he was permanently disabled. On September 8, 1994, before the case could be tried, the claimant and his attorney and the attorney for Vanliner appeared before Judge Capers seeking approval of a negotiated settlement. By the settlement terms, the claimant was to receive $25,459.2, representing a permanent partial disability of forty percent to the left leg, and an additional $9,54.8 in consideration of the claimant's relinquishment of any claim for future medical benefits, for a total of $35,.. Additionally, the claimant had already received $15,481.3 in medical benefits and $12,481.3 in temporary total disability benefits. We find in the record no transcript of the settlement hearing, but Judge Capers found that Dr. Robert V. Russell had opined the claimant had reached maximum medical improvement and would retain a permanent anatomical impairment of ten percent to the leg. The judge further found the settlement to be in the best interest of the claimant, "in light of the controversy and dispute between the parties." The agreement was approved as a full, final and complete settlement of Mr. Jarreau's claim against the employer and its insurer. Almost eight months later, on April 28, 1995, the claimant applied to the court, per Tenn. R. Civ. P. 6.2, for an order setting aside the settlement 2
Wilson County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96
Bobby G. Dickens v. Travelers Insurance Company
01S01-9512-CR-00227
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. J. O. Bond,
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 award of permanent partial disability benefits is excessive. The panel concludes the award should be affirmed. The claimant, Dickens, is 54 years old with a high school education and no special skills. In April of 1993, while working for Eatherly Construction Company as a ditch digger, he twisted his right knee. He was referred to Dr. John McInnis, who arthroscopically diagnosed and removed a large tear from the lateral meniscus of the claimant's right knee joint. The doctor assessed a permanent anatomical impairment of seven and one-half percent to the right knee, from AMA Guidelines. The claimant returned to work on June 21, 1993, but is medically restricted from repetitive squatting. Because his duties at Eatherly required him to climb, squat and kneel, he left Eatherly and is now working for another construction company servicing equipment, a job he can perform while standing in a pit. He is making less than he would be making in his former work at Eatherly. The trial court awarded permanent partial disabililty benefits on the basis of forty percent to the injured leg. 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). Once the causation and permanency of an injury have been established by expert testimony, the trial judge may consider many pertinent factors, including age, job skills, education, training, duration of disability, and job opportunities for the disabled, in addition to anatomical impairment, for the purpose of evaluating the extent of a claimant's permanent disability. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-241(a)(2). From a consideration of those factors in this case, the panel finds that the evidence fails to preponderate against the judgment of the trial court. The judgment of the trial court is therefore affirmed. Costs on appeal are taxed to the defendant-appellant. 2
Smith County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96
Bobby G. Dickens v. Travelers Insurance Company
01S01-9512-CR-00227
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. J. O. Bond,
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 award of permanent partial disability benefits is excessive. The panel concludes the award should be affirmed. The claimant, Dickens, is 54 years old with a high school education and no special skills. In April of 1993, while working for Eatherly Construction Company as a ditch digger, he twisted his right knee. He was referred to Dr. John McInnis, who arthroscopically diagnosed and removed a large tear from the lateral meniscus of the claimant's right knee joint. The doctor assessed a permanent anatomical impairment of seven and one-half percent to the right knee, from AMA Guidelines. The claimant returned to work on June 21, 1993, but is medically restricted from repetitive squatting. Because his duties at Eatherly required him to climb, squat and kneel, he left Eatherly and is now working for another construction company servicing equipment, a job he can perform while standing in a pit. He is making less than he would be making in his former work at Eatherly. The trial court awarded permanent partial disabililty benefits on the basis of forty percent to the injured leg. 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). Once the causation and permanency of an injury have been established by expert testimony, the trial judge may consider many pertinent factors, including age, job skills, education, training, duration of disability, and job opportunities for the disabled, in addition to anatomical impairment, for the purpose of evaluating the extent of a claimant's permanent disability. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-241(a)(2). From a consideration of those factors in this case, the panel finds that the evidence fails to preponderate against the judgment of the trial court. The judgment of the trial court is therefore affirmed. Costs on appeal are taxed to the defendant-appellant. 2
Smith County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96
Deborah Jean Barne v. Emerson Electric Company
02S01-9505-CV-00043
Authoring Judge: Janice M. Holder, Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Julian Guinn, Judge
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Our scope of review of findings of fact by the trial court is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-22 5(e)(2). The employer contends the trial court erred in: 1. Awarding permanent partial disability benefits based on 8% to the left hand; and 2. Aw ardi ng th e cos t of o btain ing D r. Ro bert J. Ba rnet t's depos ition as a recove rable dis cretiona ry cost. We affirm the trial court as to both issues. Deborah Jean Barner ("Barner") is 41 years of age and a high school graduate. Other than attending college for one quarter, she has no additional educational experience , specialized training or vocational training. H er work history consists entirely of factory work. Prior to employment at Emerson, Barner performed assem bly work in a plastics factory a nd worked in fa ctories where clothing was co nstructe d and s hoes w ere ma nufactu red. On October 18, 1993, Barner injured her non-dominant left hand arising out of the course and scope of her employment. From a list of three doctors given to her by the employer, she chose Dr. Harrison, whose billing reflects that he treated her on four occasions over a four month period. Dr. Harrison referred her to Dr. Stonecipher, an o rthopedic surgeon. B arner became d issatisfied with Dr. Stonecipher's treatment and continued to have difficulty performing her job duties withou t swellin g and c onstan t pain. Barner was then referred by her attorney to Dr. David Gaw, who referred her to Dr. Charles Emerson, another orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Emerson's records, 2
Henry County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96
Deborah Jean Barne v. Emerson Electric Company
02S01-9505-CV-00043
Authoring Judge: Janice M. Holder, Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Julian Guinn,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Our scope of review of findings of fact by the trial court is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-22 5(e)(2). The employer contends the trial court erred in: 1. Awarding permanent partial disability benefits based on 8% to the left hand; and 2. Aw ardi ng th e cos t of o btain ing D r. Ro bert J. Ba rnet t's depos ition as a recove rable dis cretiona ry cost. We affirm the trial court as to both issues. Deborah Jean Barner ("Barner") is 41 years of age and a high school graduate. Other than attending college for one quarter, she has no additional educational experience , specialized training or vocational training. H er work history consists entirely of factory work. Prior to employment at Emerson, Barner performed assem bly work in a plastics factory a nd worked in fa ctories where clothing was co nstructe d and s hoes w ere ma nufactu red. On October 18, 1993, Barner injured her non-dominant left hand arising out of the course and scope of her employment. From a list of three doctors given to her by the employer, she chose Dr. Harrison, whose billing reflects that he treated her on four occasions over a four month period. Dr. Harrison referred her to Dr. Stonecipher, an o rthopedic surgeon. B arner became d issatisfied with Dr. Stonecipher's treatment and continued to have difficulty performing her job duties withou t swellin g and c onstan t pain. Barner was then referred by her attorney to Dr. David Gaw, who referred her to Dr. Charles Emerson, another orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Emerson's records, 2
Wayne County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96
Florine Vandyke v. Plumley Rubber Company and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.
02S01-9604-CV-00039
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Billy Joe White
Trial Court Judge: Hon. C. Creed Mcginley,
This workers' compensation appeal 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 of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer, Plumley Rubber Company and the insurance carrier, Liberty Mutual, contend the trial court erred in granting judgment for medical expenses to the employee after they had been paid by the employee's health plan. The panel agrees and reverses the judgment of the trial court. It was stipulated that the employee's total medical expenses totaled $22,278.55. It was further stipulated that the Plaintiff had paid prior to trial $669.29 in out-of-pocket medical expenses. Her remaining medical expenses were paid by Plumley through its group health care plan. The insurance company paid the remainder. The parties further stipulated that Plumley's group health insurance plan did not contain a specific set-off clause for workers' compensation benefits. Plumley is self-insured for group health benefits. This panel holds that under T.C.A. _ 5-6-24 that the employer is responsible for payment of medical expenses and that the employee is not entitled to a judgment against the employer for medical bills which have already been paid. This panel holds that this case is controlled by Bituminous Casualty Corp. v. Smith, 288 S.W.2d, 913, 916 (Tenn. 1956). The judgment of the trial court is reversed and remanded for appropriate action under this decision. The costs are taxed to the Plaintiff/Appellee.
Henry County Workers Compensation Panel 10/01/96
Gregory Leverett v. State of Tennessee
03C01-9511-CR-00362
Authoring Judge: Paul G. Summers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Douglas A. Meyer, Judge
The appellant, Gregory Leverett, pled guilty to rape. He was sentenced to twelve years incarceration. He petitioned for post-conviction relief. The petition was dismissed as untimely. He now appeals that dismissal. We respectfully reverse and remand for an evidentiary hearing.
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 09/30/96
Gary W. Hardin v. Great Rivers Employment Aptitude and Technical Service, Inc., et al
02S01-9603-CH-00028
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Billy Joe White
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Joe E. Morris,
This workers' compensation appeal 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 of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer contends that no notice was given by the employee. The panel concludes the judgment should be affirmed as modified. On January 16, 1995, Plaintiff began working at Young Radiator Company as a welder. (T.T. at 16). Plaintiff testified that after he had been working for a period of three weeks, he experienced pain and numbness in his left hand. (T.T. at 17-18). Plaintiff went to see Dr. Charles White of his own accord on February 6, 1995, and paid for the visit through TennCare. (T.T. at 5, 18, 51). Plaintiff testified that he continued to have pain and numbness in his hand and saw Dr. John Phillips on February 22, 1995. (T.T. at 22). Dr. Neblett first saw Plaintiff on February 27, 1995. (Neblett Depo. at 3). Following Dr. Neblett's evaluation, Plaintiff elected to have carpal tunnel release surgery, which was performed on March 9, 1995. (Neblett Depo. at 5-6). The Plaintiff testified that the pain started when he banged on metal and this was what he told his doctors. (T.T. at 61). He further testified, ". . . (b)ut I told them that I didn't know exactly, you know, if that was the cause or not, because I didn't know because I'm not a doctor." (T.T. at 61). Casual connection between the injury and work was related to the employee on March 31, 1995 by Dr. Neblett. (T.R. at 58). Written notice was provided to the employer on April 5, 1995. This panel finds that notice was given within thirty (3) days of knowledge of his injury pursuant to T.C.A. _ 5-6-21 and this case should be affirmed on this issue.
Hardin County Workers Compensation Panel 09/30/96
Gary W. Hardin v. Great Rivers Employment Aptitude and Technical Service, Inc., et al
02S01-9603-CH-00028
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Billy Joe White
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Joe E. Morris,
This workers' compensation appeal 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 of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer contends that no notice was given by the employee. The panel concludes the judgment should be affirmed as modified. On January 16, 1995, Plaintiff began working at Young Radiator Company as a welder. (T.T. at 16). Plaintiff testified that after he had been working for a period of three weeks, he experienced pain and numbness in his left hand. (T.T. at 17-18). Plaintiff went to see Dr. Charles White of his own accord on February 6, 1995, and paid for the visit through TennCare. (T.T. at 5, 18, 51). Plaintiff testified that he continued to have pain and numbness in his hand and saw Dr. John Phillips on February 22, 1995. (T.T. at 22). Dr. Neblett first saw Plaintiff on February 27, 1995. (Neblett Depo. at 3). Following Dr. Neblett's evaluation, Plaintiff elected to have carpal tunnel release surgery, which was performed on March 9, 1995. (Neblett Depo. at 5-6). The Plaintiff testified that the pain started when he banged on metal and this was what he told his doctors. (T.T. at 61). He further testified, ". . . (b)ut I told them that I didn't know exactly, you know, if that was the cause or not, because I didn't know because I'm not a doctor." (T.T. at 61). Casual connection between the injury and work was related to the employee on March 31, 1995 by Dr. Neblett. (T.R. at 58). Written notice was provided to the employer on April 5, 1995. This panel finds that notice was given within thirty (3) days of knowledge of his injury pursuant to T.C.A. _ 5-6-21 and this case should be affirmed on this issue.
Hardin County Workers Compensation Panel 09/30/96
Kenneth Fuller v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Madison Industries, Inc. and Sue Ann Head, Director of The Division of Workers Compensation, Tennessee Department of Labor
02S01-9508-CV-00076
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Whit Lafon,
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 or claimant, Fuller, contends "the trial court erred in limiting his permanent total disability award to a maximum total benefit of one hundred forty-two thousand, three hundred eighty-eight dollars ($142,388.), as opposed to ordering lifetime benefits pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. 5-6-27(4)(A), when the employee was found to be totally disabled." The Second Injury Fund (the Fund) contends the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the claimant is permanently and totally disabled as a result of a work-related injury by accident. The panel concludes the judgment should be modified as provided herein. The claimant has three infirmities. He has a pre-existing avascular necrosis, which was surgically treated and from which he rehabilitated himself and worked for the employer, Madison Industries; he has carpal tunnel syndrome, which he gradually developed from repetitive use of his hands at Madison Industries; and he has Raynaud's disease or mixed connective tissue disorder, vasculitis, unrelated to any on-the-job injury. At the time of the trial, the claimant was thirty-seven years old and had a high school education and a drafting diploma. His working history includes bagging groceries, stocking shelves, operating machines, driving forklifts and production work, as well as drafting. In 1985, Dr. James Warmbrod, an orthopedic surgeon, performed hip surgery on the claimant's hips for bilateral avascular necrosis, secondary to chronic alcoholism. The same doctor performed bilateral carpal tunnel release surgery on the claimant in 1993, after the claimant developed bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome from his work for the employer. Dr. Warmbrod assigned ten percent permanent impairment to both arms and suggested that the claimant be limited to light, sedentary work and not do repetitive work with his hands. The doctor also suggested that, because of the claimant's vasculitis in both arms, which was diagnosed after he developed carpal tunnel syndrome, that he should work in a warm environment. Dr. Robert Winston, an internist, conducted an independent medical examination on June 21, 1994, after vasculitis had been diagnosed, and concluded that the claimant was permanently and totally disabled. The doctor assigned twelve to fifteen percent permanent impairment to each upper extremity and forty percent to the pre-existing hip condition. The trial court found the claimant to be permanently and totally disabled as a result of all three infirmities and awarded benefits accordingly, not to exceed $142,388., the maximum disability award allowable under the 2
Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 09/30/96