Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 08/29/2015
Format: 08/29/2015
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
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
Anthony Ray Morris v. Keebler Company, Inc., et al
02S01-9511-CV-00119
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Anthony Ray 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. The trial court held that plaintiff failed to provide timely notice as required by TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-21 and that he failed to meet his burden of proving that his injury arose in the course and scope of his employment. The plaintiff appeals these findings. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Plaintiff, 28 at the time of trial, worked for defendant as a route salesman. He testified that in early October 1992, he felt "a sudden pain--not pain, but tingling." He testified that he first felt this when his leg hit the ground getting out of the delivery truck he drove for defendant. After the initial onset of symptoms, plaintiff began to feel that his leg was losing strength. At one point early in the same month, his supervisor noticed him limping and asked him about it. Plaintiff reported feeling numbness and tingling in his leg and that he thought he was losing strength in his leg. The supervisor felt his leg and testified that it felt like "mush." Plaintiff did not report any injury or onset of symptoms at work at this time. Plaintiff testified that his left leg gave out on him in early November while he was shooting baskets. On November 1, 1992, he saw his wife's family practitioner, Dr. Walter Verner. He told Dr. Verner that he had pain in his left thigh and that he had been losing muscle strength in his left leg for about a month. Dr. Verner testified that his notes do not indicate a work-related injury, although that is something that he would normally record. Dr. Verner noted a marked reduction in the plaintiff's deep tendon reflex in his left knee and referred him to Dr. Barry Thompson, a neurologist. Dr. Thompson found left quadriceps weakness and ordered a variety of tests, including an EMG which indicated a possible L4-5 radiculopathy and an MRI which indicated a possible L3 herniated disc on the left. He referred plaintiff to Dr. Joseph Buchignani, a neurosurgeon. 2
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/12/96
Anthony Ray Morris v. Keebler Company, Inc., et al
02S01-9511-CV-00119
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Anthony Ray 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. The trial court held that plaintiff failed to provide timely notice as required by TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-21 and that he failed to meet his burden of proving that his injury arose in the course and scope of his employment. The plaintiff appeals these findings. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Plaintiff, 28 at the time of trial, worked for defendant as a route salesman. He testified that in early October 1992, he felt "a sudden pain--not pain, but tingling." He testified that he first felt this when his leg hit the ground getting out of the delivery truck he drove for defendant. After the initial onset of symptoms, plaintiff began to feel that his leg was losing strength. At one point early in the same month, his supervisor noticed him limping and asked him about it. Plaintiff reported feeling numbness and tingling in his leg and that he thought he was losing strength in his leg. The supervisor felt his leg and testified that it felt like "mush." Plaintiff did not report any injury or onset of symptoms at work at this time. Plaintiff testified that his left leg gave out on him in early November while he was shooting baskets. On November 1, 1992, he saw his wife's family practitioner, Dr. Walter Verner. He told Dr. Verner that he had pain in his left thigh and that he had been losing muscle strength in his left leg for about a month. Dr. Verner testified that his notes do not indicate a work-related injury, although that is something that he would normally record. Dr. Verner noted a marked reduction in the plaintiff's deep tendon reflex in his left knee and referred him to Dr. Barry Thompson, a neurologist. Dr. Thompson found left quadriceps weakness and ordered a variety of tests, including an EMG which indicated a possible L4-5 radiculopathy and an MRI which indicated a possible L3 herniated disc on the left. He referred plaintiff to Dr. Joseph Buchignani, a neurosurgeon. 2
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/12/96
Vickie Lee Patterson v. Btr Dunlop, Inc., d/b/a Huyck-Formex
03S01-9507-CH-00082
Authoring Judge: Houston M. Goddard, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. DENNIS H. INMAN
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 07/31/96
Larry H. Mull v. Transport South, Inc.
03S01-9512-CV-00135
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. L. Marie Williams
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 employee/plaintiff injured his right arm while working as a truck driver for defendant. The trial judge awarded plaintiff 12 percent disability to the right arm. We find that the evidence preponderates against an award of 12 percent and in favor of an award of 2 percent permanent partial disability to the right arm and we affirm the judgment of the trial court as so modified. On February 19, 1993, Plaintiff was trying to pry loose a stuck fuel valve on the employer's fuel truck so that he could fill the truck with jet fuel when his wrist "popped" and started tingling. He went to the emergency room that day for treatment, where he was given a forearm splint. Three days later he saw orthopedic surgeon Dr. Alan Odom, who placed plaintiff on light duty for ten days and told him to 2
Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 07/31/96
Joyce Jones v. New York Underwriters
03S01-9505-CH-00050
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Richard E. Ladd
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 alleged injury to her back and neck at work. The trial judge awarded her 15 percent permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Plaintiff was working for at Arcata Graphics on March 17, 1992 when her right index finger was caught in a re-press roller. She tried to jerk her finger out of the roller, fearing her whole hand and arm would be caught, and her supervisor pushed her back from the machine while trying to turn the machine off. She was treated in the emergency room and subsequently referred to Dr. James Phillips, orthopedic surgeon. She received anti-inflammatory medication and underwent physical therapy. Two weeks later she began experiencing increasing pain, "moving up her arm and in her shoulder and neck area," and still later she began having severe headaches on the right side of her head. Dr. Gregory Corradino, a neurologist, began treating plaintiff in late 1993 and performed surgery on her cervical spine. When deposed, Dr. Phillips opined that if plaintiff's finger crush injury were accompanied by a jerking maneuver, it could have caused her disc rupture, and that this possible causal connection would be strengthened if surgery resolved her complaints. Dr. Gregory Corradino found that plaintiff had a herniated cervical disc at C4/5 and performed surgical removal of the disc. W hen asked whether the disc herniation had been caused by plaintiff's jerking her finger out of the press at work, he opined that such motion could cause a disc herniation. Dr. John Marshall, physiatrist, evaluated plaintiff for defendant and treated her for nine months. He opined that although the jerking motion could herniate a disc, he did not think that it had done so in this case. Plaintiff testified that she jerked her head and neck hard to remove her finger from the press. She further said that prior to the injury at Arcata Graphics, she had
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 07/30/96