Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 04/20/2014
Format: 04/20/2014
Debra Michelle Lambert v. Famous Hospitality, Inc.
02S01-9511-CV-00112
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. 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. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Plaintiff was working at Bruce Hardwood Floors when she injured her right shoulder in October of 1991 while lifting pieces of wood from a conveyor belt. In May of 1992, she complained to her treating physician of pain in her hands and wrists. She alleged work-related permanent disability as a result of these conditions. The trial court awarded plaintiff 33 percent permanent partial disability to each arm. We find the plaintiff has failed to meet her burden of proving permanent partial disability and therefore reverse the decision of the trial court and dismiss the complaint. Plaintiff testified that she was removing thin or short wood from a conveyor belt and lifting 4 to 5 pounds frequently when her right shoulder started bothering her, sometime in October or before October. The employer referred her to Convenient Care Clinic, then referred her to Dr. Alan Pechacek, board-certified orthopedic surgeon, at Jackson Clinic. Dr. Pechacek's examination and x-ray on November 11, 1991 gave him the impression that plaintiff's right shoulder pain was due to some irritation or inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons. He prescribed physical therapy, exercises, pain medication and work restrictions, which improved plaintiff's condition. In January of 1992, Dr. Pechacek told plaintiff she could return to full work with no restrictions. He continued to see her for renewal of prescriptions but felt she was "basically functional, as far as being able to do her job." In May of 1992, plaintiff returned to Dr. Pechacek complaining of shoulder pain and also bilateral wrist and hand pain and numbness. She said this bothered her both at work and at home at night. At her June, 1992 office visit, Dr. Pechacek stated that plaintiff's symptoms were "mild and vague," and he gave her splints to wear on her wrists. She was no longer working because of some dispute with her employer, and he thought she could control her hand activity at home. In July 1992, she returned still complaining of discomfort, so Dr. Pechacek ordered nerve conduction studies, which showed mild changes in the median nerve 2
Smith County Workers Compensation Panel 08/30/96
Reba Joyce Moody v. Phelps Security, Inc. and Fidelity and Casualty Co. of New York
02501-9509-CV-00080
Authoring Judge: F. Lloyd Tatum, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Robert A. Lanier, Judge
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special W ork ers ' C om pe ns atio n A pp ea ls P an el of the Su pre m e C ou rt in acc ord an ce with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and rep ort ing of fin din gs of fa ct a nd co nc lus ion s o f law . Suit was filed in the Circuit Court at Memphis b y Re ba Joyce Moody as representative of the estate of her deceased h usband, James Jun ior Mo ody, against Phelps Security, Inc., the employer, and Fid elity and Ca sualty Co. of New Y ork, the em ployer's workers' comp ensation insurance carrier. The plaintiff sued for workers' compensation benefits as a result of an accidental injury tha t alle ge dly caused th e d ea th o f Jam es Jun ior M oo dy, in clud ing a po rtion o f the medical ex pe ns es inc urr ed . T he de fen da nts filed an an sw er a dm ittin g that Jam es Jun ior M oo dy s us taine d a ccid en tal inju ries g row ing o ut o f and in the cou rse of h is em ploy m en t, but they denied that these injuries resulted in the de ath of Ja m es Jun ior M oo dy. The answ er also stated that the insurance carrier had paid that portion of the medical expenses which w ere rela ted to th e in jurie s s us tain ed by James Junior Moody on or a bo ut N ov em be r 7, 1 99 2, th e d ate of th e a ccid en t. The de fen da nts filed a suggestion of death showing that Reba Joyce Moody, Administratrix, died on September 19, 1 994. James Moo dy and Deborah Ann Wolfe were appointed as successor Co - Administrators of the estate. The trial judge found in fav or o f the plain tiff and aw ard ed w ee kly be ne fits from the date of the death of the deceased on January 13, 1993 to the widow's death on September 19, 1994. The total medical expenses owing was Two Hundred and Fifty-Seven Thousand, Three 2
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/30/96
Reba Joyce Moody v. Phelps Security, Inc. and Fidelity and Casualty Co. of New York
02501-9509-CV-00080
Authoring Judge: F. Lloyd Tatum, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Robert A. Lanier, Judge
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special W ork ers ' C om pe ns atio n A pp ea ls P an el of the Su pre m e C ou rt in acc ord an ce with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and rep ort ing of fin din gs of fa ct a nd co nc lus ion s o f law . Suit was filed in the Circuit Court at Memphis b y Re ba Joyce Moody as representative of the estate of her deceased h usband, James Jun ior Mo ody, against Phelps Security, Inc., the employer, and Fid elity and Ca sualty Co. of New Y ork, the em ployer's workers' comp ensation insurance carrier. The plaintiff sued for workers' compensation benefits as a result of an accidental injury tha t alle ge dly caused th e d ea th o f Jam es Jun ior M oo dy, in clud ing a po rtion o f the medical ex pe ns es inc urr ed . T he de fen da nts filed an an sw er a dm ittin g that Jam es Jun ior M oo dy s us taine d a ccid en tal inju ries g row ing o ut o f and in the cou rse of h is em ploy m en t, but they denied that these injuries resulted in the de ath of Ja m es Jun ior M oo dy. The answ er also stated that the insurance carrier had paid that portion of the medical expenses which w ere rela ted to th e in jurie s s us tain ed by James Junior Moody on or a bo ut N ov em be r 7, 1 99 2, th e d ate of th e a ccid en t. The de fen da nts filed a suggestion of death showing that Reba Joyce Moody, Administratrix, died on September 19, 1 994. James Moo dy and Deborah Ann Wolfe were appointed as successor Co - Administrators of the estate. The trial judge found in fav or o f the plain tiff and aw ard ed w ee kly be ne fits from the date of the death of the deceased on January 13, 1993 to the widow's death on September 19, 1994. The total medical expenses owing was Two Hundred and Fifty-Seven Thousand, Three 2
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/30/96
Christine Callahan v. Patrick Michael Callahan
03A01-9603-CV-00116
Authoring Judge: Don T. Mcmurray
Trial Court Judge: Hon. BILL SWAN, JUDGE
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 08/30/96
Joe Boatman v. Ww of Memphis, Inc.
02S01-9508-CV-00065
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. James E. Swearengen
This case is before the Court upon 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;
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/28/96
Sandra Whitehead v. Express Services, Inc.
02S01-9511-CH-00118
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Dewey C. Whitenton
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, Express Services, contends the trial court's award of permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of eighty percent permanent partial disability to the left arm is excessive. The panel has concluded that the award should be modified to provide permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of fifty percent to the left arm. At the time of the trial, the claimant, Sandra Whitehead, was thirty- five years old and had a GED. She has worked on an assembly line and as a sewing machine operator. She began working for the employer as a temporary employee on June 22, 1994. On July 1, 1994, she accidentally cut her left wrist while opening boxes with a box cutter. She was first referred to Dr. Charles Stewart, who diagnosed a laceration of the left wrist. He sutured the laceration, but later referred her to Dr. Anthony Segal, a neurosurgeon, when she continued to complain. Dr. Segal conducted nerveconduction studies and found mild nerve damage and possible reflex dystrophy. Dr. Segal testified by deposition but assigned no permanent impairment. The claimant went toDr. James Varner, an orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Varner diagnosed a partial sensory nerve laceration of the median nerve and reflex dystrophy syndrome. He treated her condition with medication, physical therapy and a stellate block, and assessed a permanent anatomical impairment of fifteen percent to the left arm. The doctor advised her to avoid repetitive use of the left arm, but said she could perform jobs that did not require such repetitive use. He said she was not impaired from pronating and supinating her wrist. A physical therapist testified that functional capacity evaluation tests were invalid because the claimant refused to exert maximum effort. The claimant testified that her arm stays cold all the time and that she is unable to perform household chores such as twisting caps from jars and opening doors. The trial court awarded permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of eighty percent to the left arm. Appellate review 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. section 5-6- 225(e)(2). 2
White County Workers Compensation Panel 08/28/96
Sandra Whitehead v. Express Services, Inc.
02S01-9511-CH-00118
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Dewey C. Whitenton
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, Express Services, contends the trial court's award of permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of eighty percent permanent partial disability to the left arm is excessive. The panel has concluded that the award should be modified to provide permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of fifty percent to the left arm. At the time of the trial, the claimant, Sandra Whitehead, was thirty- five years old and had a GED. She has worked on an assembly line and as a sewing machine operator. She began working for the employer as a temporary employee on June 22, 1994. On July 1, 1994, she accidentally cut her left wrist while opening boxes with a box cutter. She was first referred to Dr. Charles Stewart, who diagnosed a laceration of the left wrist. He sutured the laceration, but later referred her to Dr. Anthony Segal, a neurosurgeon, when she continued to complain. Dr. Segal conducted nerveconduction studies and found mild nerve damage and possible reflex dystrophy. Dr. Segal testified by deposition but assigned no permanent impairment. The claimant went toDr. James Varner, an orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Varner diagnosed a partial sensory nerve laceration of the median nerve and reflex dystrophy syndrome. He treated her condition with medication, physical therapy and a stellate block, and assessed a permanent anatomical impairment of fifteen percent to the left arm. The doctor advised her to avoid repetitive use of the left arm, but said she could perform jobs that did not require such repetitive use. He said she was not impaired from pronating and supinating her wrist. A physical therapist testified that functional capacity evaluation tests were invalid because the claimant refused to exert maximum effort. The claimant testified that her arm stays cold all the time and that she is unable to perform household chores such as twisting caps from jars and opening doors. The trial court awarded permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of eighty percent to the left arm. Appellate review 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. section 5-6- 225(e)(2). 2
White County Workers Compensation Panel 08/28/96
Jimmy Mccarver v. Tecumseh Products Company
02S01-9512-CV-00124
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. In this appeal, the employer, Tecumseh, contends that the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the employee's disability arose out of the employment. The panel agrees. On October 1, 1993, the employee or claimant, McCarver, while working for the employer, bumped his leg against a metal container and felt immediate pain. He was referred to a doctor, who diagnosed a bruised leg and arthritis. When the pain persisted, the claimant was referred to another doctor, who made a similar diagnosis. The claimant testified that he has difficulty standing, walking, squatting, sitting and sleeping that he did not have before the accident, and that he is no longer able to work. His condition interferes with his hunting and fishing. Doctors have determined that he has degenerative joint disease and synovitis of the left knee. There is no medical evidence that his condition is causally connected to the work-related accident of October 1, 1993. The trial court awarded permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of seventy-five percent to the left 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 is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(2). Unless admitted by the employer, the employee has the burden of proving, by competent evidence, every essential element of his claim. Mazanec v. Aetna Ins. Co., 491 S.W.2d 616 (Tenn. 1973). He must prove, among other things, that his injury arose out of his employment. In order to establish that an injury was one arising out of the employment, the cause of the injury must be proved. In all but the most obvious cases, causation may only be established by expert medical testimony. Orman v. Williams Sonoma, Inc., 83 S.W.2d 672, 676 (Tenn. 1991). In the present case, there simply is no medical evidence either that the accident at work caused the injury or that it aggravated a pre-existing condition, causing the disability. Moreover, the causal connection is not obvious from the circumstances. We therefore find that the evidence preponderates against any award of permanent disability benefits. 2
Henry County Workers Compensation Panel 08/28/96
Jimmy Mccarver v. Tecumseh Products Company
02S01-9512-CV-00124
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. In this appeal, the employer, Tecumseh, contends that the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the employee's disability arose out of the employment. The panel agrees. On October 1, 1993, the employee or claimant, McCarver, while working for the employer, bumped his leg against a metal container and felt immediate pain. He was referred to a doctor, who diagnosed a bruised leg and arthritis. When the pain persisted, the claimant was referred to another doctor, who made a similar diagnosis. The claimant testified that he has difficulty standing, walking, squatting, sitting and sleeping that he did not have before the accident, and that he is no longer able to work. His condition interferes with his hunting and fishing. Doctors have determined that he has degenerative joint disease and synovitis of the left knee. There is no medical evidence that his condition is causally connected to the work-related accident of October 1, 1993. The trial court awarded permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of seventy-five percent to the left 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 is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(2). Unless admitted by the employer, the employee has the burden of proving, by competent evidence, every essential element of his claim. Mazanec v. Aetna Ins. Co., 491 S.W.2d 616 (Tenn. 1973). He must prove, among other things, that his injury arose out of his employment. In order to establish that an injury was one arising out of the employment, the cause of the injury must be proved. In all but the most obvious cases, causation may only be established by expert medical testimony. Orman v. Williams Sonoma, Inc., 83 S.W.2d 672, 676 (Tenn. 1991). In the present case, there simply is no medical evidence either that the accident at work caused the injury or that it aggravated a pre-existing condition, causing the disability. Moreover, the causal connection is not obvious from the circumstances. We therefore find that the evidence preponderates against any award of permanent disability benefits. 2
Henry County Workers Compensation Panel 08/28/96
Joe Boatman v. Ww of Memphis, Inc. D/B/A. Advance Muffler & Auto Service and Amerisure Insurance Company
02S01-9508-CV-00065
Authoring Judge: John K. Byers, Senior Judg
Trial Court Judge: Hon. James E. Swearengen
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 5% permanent partial disability to each arm. Defendant challenges 1) the finding of permanent vocational disability to the right arm and 2) the finding of 5% permanent partial disability to each arm. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Plaintiff, 54 at the time of trial, has a high school degree and some college education, sufficient at least to be certified as a junior high school shop teacher in Texas. He taught for about two years. He has also been certified in mechanics by a vocational-technical school in Memphis. His work history includes work as a military supply clerk, factory worker, supervisor of inmates and of youths in juvenile detention and mechanic. Plaintiff worked for defendant-employer as an installer of brakes and mufflers and as a manager. On November 4, 1992, he slipped on some oil while guiding a car into the shop and fell into the pit, about eight feet down, head first. He tried to catch himself with his hands. Dr. Phillip Wright, an orthopedic surgeon, testified by deposition. He testified that plaintiff was diagnosed with a fracture of the left radial styloid (in the wrist), a fracture of the proximal phalanx of the left thumb and carpal tunnel syndrome in his right arm. Surgery was performed and a pin was temporarily placed in his left wrist. Plaintiff was given a splint for his right wrist and, in March 1993, was given a cortisone shot. After the shot, Dr. Wright did not testify to any complaints by plaintiff concerning his right arm. Dr. Wright assigned ten percent permanent impairment to the plaintiff's left upper extremity. He testified that, if plaintiff continued to have the same symptoms in his right arm, plaintiff would have a ten percent impairment to his right upper extremity. 2
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/28/96
Autto Lee Taylor, Sr. v. Bailey-Parks Urethane, Inc.,
02S01-9602-CV-00018
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Billy Joe White
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Robert A. Lanier,
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 no notice was given and causation was not proven. The trial judge found proper notice and a work-related injury. This panel affirms the judgment of the trial judge. The Plaintiff testified, "A. I told him about it. He just sat there and looked at me. He didn't say nothing. Q. What did you tell him? A. I told him I hurt my back Friday. I needed to go to the doctor. Q. Did Mr. Tutor ask you any questions at that time? A. He asked me where I hurt my back. I said here at the job." (App. P. 28). Mr. Tutor testified, ". . .He had come to evidently Larry, which is his supervisor. We happened to be standing talking and he come up to us, I guess he was giving notification that he had hurt his back, that he had -- that he needed to go home or get this taken care of, but he had not said anything to Larry individually. He come up to both of us at the same time, which is the right thing for him to do. He needs to report it." (App. P. 7). The scope of review is de novo on the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness of the judgment of the trial court, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. T.C.A. _ 5-6-225 (e)(2). This panel finds that the preponderance of the evidence establishes notice within T.C.A. _ 5-6-21 and affirms the trial court. As to the issue of causation the treating doctor, Dr. Leventhal, testified to a history given him by the employee of a work related injury. (Leventhal Depo. P.11).
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/22/96
Autto Lee Taylor, Sr. v. Bailey-Parks Urethane, Inc.,
02S01-9602-CV-00018
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Billy Joe White
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Robert A. Lanier,
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 no notice was given and causation was not proven. The trial judge found proper notice and a work-related injury. This panel affirms the judgment of the trial judge. The Plaintiff testified, "A. I told him about it. He just sat there and looked at me. He didn't say nothing. Q. What did you tell him? A. I told him I hurt my back Friday. I needed to go to the doctor. Q. Did Mr. Tutor ask you any questions at that time? A. He asked me where I hurt my back. I said here at the job." (App. P. 28). Mr. Tutor testified, ". . .He had come to evidently Larry, which is his supervisor. We happened to be standing talking and he come up to us, I guess he was giving notification that he had hurt his back, that he had -- that he needed to go home or get this taken care of, but he had not said anything to Larry individually. He come up to both of us at the same time, which is the right thing for him to do. He needs to report it." (App. P. 7). The scope of review is de novo on the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness of the judgment of the trial court, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. T.C.A. _ 5-6-225 (e)(2). This panel finds that the preponderance of the evidence establishes notice within T.C.A. _ 5-6-21 and affirms the trial court. As to the issue of causation the treating doctor, Dr. Leventhal, testified to a history given him by the employee of a work related injury. (Leventhal Depo. P.11).
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/22/96
Jeffrey Wolfe v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
02S01-9602-CV-00016
Authoring Judge: Cornelia A. Clark, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. James M. Tharpe,
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 appears 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.
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/12/96